No Pain, No Gain
16 year old athlete overcomes knee condition to pursue Olympic dreams
As children, we are often asked, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" We often hear the answers: astronaut, teacher or superhero. For 4-year-old Ian Gunther, he knew that he was born to be an Olympian.
Starting such a demanding sport at a very young age has its ups and downs. You spend hours training in the gym doing what you love, to excel at a sport in hopes to one day become an Olympic athlete. Soon after Ian started gymnastics, it quickly went from a fun activity his parents signed him up for, to something he had so much passion for he knew he wouldn’t quit until he got to the top; and that is exactly what Ian is doing.
Ian sacrificed countless hours, days, weeks and months of free time to be in the gym. He missed school functions, fieldtrips and gatherings with his friends and family, all for the sport he loved the most: gymnastics. But with years of exhausting physical activity, your body starts to take a toll.
On March 17, 2015, Ian underwent surgery to correct osteochondritis dissecans of the patella in his right knee. This occurs when a small segment of bone begins to separate from its surrounding region due to a lack of blood supply. As a result, the small piece of bone and the cartilage covering it begin to crack and loosen. Ian’s condition was not a result of something specific he did while competing or practicing; this is something that simply happened as time went on.
Ian had his surgery performed by Dr. Jack Farr who specializes in cartilage restoration, sports medicine and knee. While this surgery caused Ian to miss an entire gymnastics season, the surgery itself went incredibly well. If it weren’t for Dr. Farr’s knowledge and talent on Ian’s condition, he wouldn’t be where he is today.
“This condition is rare to begin with and in the case of Ian, his lesion was at his knee cap (patella), which is extremely rare,” said Dr. Farr. “The goal in treatment is to assist the bone in healing and establish an overlying region of healthy cartilage.”
Ian was in a wheelchair with his leg immobilized and went through extensive physical therapy. Despite what friends and family thought and after a long road with physical therapy, Ian was slowly but surely able to get back to the gym. He was able to compete and took gold at nationals that following year. Ian made his parents very proud by earning the Academic All American Award for three years in a row while continuing his dedication to gymnastics.
Ian most recently competed in the P&G Classics-Road to Rio competition. He finished sixth in the nation for his age group for both pommel horse and still rings. He placed 11th on high bar and finished 19th all around in his age group. This was Ian’s first year back after surgery and to be able to place 19th in the nation overall, is something that Ian is extremely proud of.
Dr. Farr was able to repair Ian’s right knee and now he is well on his way to pursue his dream of being an Olympic athlete. “His approach before and after surgery was one of meticulous attention on how he could heal and recover as quickly as possible. He was a star patient; always following protocol and giving his very best in rehabilitation,” said Dr. Farr.
In the words of Ian’s mother, “Everything has worked out so 'Farr' so good.”
To schedule an appointment with Dr. Farr, please call 317.884.5163 or request an appointment
online at OrthoIndy.com/ Request.
Written by, Shelby Maue. Shelby is the Marketing Intern for OrthoIndy during Summer 2016. During her internship, Maue wrote a variety of articles and blog posts, as well as aided in social media and media relations tactics for OrthoIndy and OrthoIndy Hospital. Maue is a senior at Ball State University and will graduate in May 2017 with a bachelor’s degree in public relations.