Even after training at a level one trauma center, 17-year-old Braden McGee’s injury would be uncommon for OCH Orthopedic Surgeon Dr. Jordan Ferguson. The fellowship-trained sports medicine orthopedic specialist has performed surgery for a tibial shaft fracture on many occasions, but not as a result from an injury on a high school football field.
“It’s not very common for a kid to have this type of injury during a high school football game,” said Dr. Ferguson. “This type of injury is usually seen in motor vehicle accidents or when pedestrians are hit by a vehicle. The tibia is the second largest bone in your body, and it takes a lot of force to break it,” explained Dr. Ferguson.
Number 48 for Choctaw County High School, McGee was playing defensive end in the October 15 district game against Eupora when it happened. Those in the stands would later refer to the incident as “friendly fire.” A teammate was going in for the tackle when he fell on top of McGee, breaking his tibia or the bone more commonly referred to as the shin.
OCH Certified Athletic Trainer Breeze Knupp was on the sidelines when it happened and responded immediately.
“One of his teammates looked at us and said, ‘his leg is broken.’ At first I thought, he doesn’t know that, and when I looked at him, it was obviously broken. With the help of the EMS team, the Eupora trainer and another physical therapist, we splinted the leg on the field and got him in the ambulance. It was really a team effort, even the sheriff’s deputy was holding his flashlight so we were able to see better,” recalled Knupp.
McGee was transported to OCH Regional Medical Center where he was admitted and had surgery the next day.
“We just appreciate the attention to detail by Dr. Ferguson and the staff at the hospital,” said McGee’s father, Curt McGee. “We never had to ask a single question. He treated Braden like his own son. He was genuine, and that matters to parents.”
McGee’s mother, Jennice McGee, said when her son was in pain Saturday night, Dr. Ferguson came back to the hospital to check on him and get his pain under control.
“Abby Richardson was our nurse, and she was amazing,” said Jennice McGee. “She called Dr. Ferguson to let him know about the situation and continually checked on us. Dr. Ferguson came up to the hospital to check on us throughout the night. Everyone was wonderful.”
“That’s the way I was trained, and that’s how I take care of my patients,” said Dr. Ferguson. “I was concerned about his level of pain and wanted to see him in person. It’s important for me to be there to talk face-to-face to the patient, and in this case, the parents too, to make sure they understand the situation and that I answer any of their questions.”
McGee returned home on Monday afternoon, but the road to recovery is just beginning. And although the break was bad, Dr. Ferguson and Knupp both said it could have been worse if the injury happened to his knee.
"In general, patients have an extended recovery time with knee injuries and have to be immobilized a longer period of time. Injuries to the knee can also result in more long-term issues for patients," explained Dr. Ferguson.
Knupp, who covers various sports for Starkville Academy and Starkville High School and football for Choctaw County High School, said rehabilitation is what is most important for McGee now.
“We want him to come back to play ball, but we’re looking at the bigger picture and want him to get the care he needs so that he has a high quality of life after sports,” said Knupp. “You never want to see a kid get hurt, but I was glad to do what I did in the moment to help him get to where he needed to be.”