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If it’s possible for competitiveness to run in a family, Meridith Barone is a textbook example. Both she and her father are in the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame — one of only two father-daughter duos to be honored there. She’s also passed on a love of sports to her daughter Maddie.
Barone and her daughter have also faced some of the same challenges that come with playing sports at a high level, including similar injuries. Both have had to deal with a torn ACL, a key ligament that connects the thighbone to the shinbone. They’ve also turned to the same surgeon to get back in the game.
“There’s a genetic predisposition for individuals to have ACL ruptures, and it’s unfortunate that Meridith and her daughter had to go through the exact same recovery,” said Dr. Peter Cha, an orthopedic surgeon at Beacon Orthopaedics who also resides as the organization’s president and is fellowship trained in sports medicine.
Barone first met Cha while looking for a new doctor after a failed recovery from her first ACL surgery.
“I had my first ACL surgery around 2013 with another doctor who just used a different procedure,” Barone said. “I was in therapy for five months and all kinds of things, but we just couldn’t get all of my strength and mobility and everything back. After several years of suffering, and also getting a blood clot from that surgery, I finally decided to get a second opinion.”
Barone recalls interviewing at least three different doctors from multiple practices before settling on Cha in late 2018. While she wasn’t thrilled about the prospect of a second surgery for the same injury, she was impressed by Cha’s thoroughness and custom-tailored approach to her injury.
Basically he told me, ‘I will help restore your quality of life.’ And he did,” Barone says. “Within one week after the surgery, I had so much less pain than I did before.”
Barone’s own competitive drive and desire to return to an active lifestyle also played a role in her recovery.
“She worked her tail off in physical therapy and ended up getting back to a high level of functioning after the surgery,” Cha said. “She was very discouraged about going through another ACL reconstruction, so her challenge and the mountain she had to climb was very significant, but she answered the call and really came through.”
When Barone’s daughter Maddie suffered a similar injury playing volleyball the following year, the family was immediately in contact with Cha again.
“We got the surgery done quickly, which is really important for scar tissue reduction, and because the strength goes out of your leg immediately once the ACL breaks,” Barone said. “I think she’ll definitely come out stronger on the other side. She’ll be able to rebound and have a very healthy and active life because of having the surgery with him, and also with that physical therapy team.”
Like her mother, Maddie is recovering quickly.
“Neither of those two individuals had any issues,” Cha said. “They were both superstars.”
That said, Maddie’s quick recovery is also sparking some friendly family rivalry.
“She’s ahead of all of her milestones,” Barone said. “They make fun of me. They say she’s surpassing everything that I did, recovering quicker. I was like, ‘Wait a minute. You know how competitive I am!’”