Cutting-edge KP procedure puts star athlete back on track

Posted: Nov 17, 2023

Kaiser Permanente Diablo Sports Medicine department take a whole-team, integrated approach to treat injured athletes

In 2021, high school freshman Zoe Lahanas was a multi-sport athlete who played soccer, swam, and ran track and field.

Zoe strained her left knee playing soccer so took a break from it but continued track – competing in a meet and winning a medal for high jump. The day after that win, she returned to soccer and injured her meniscus and other knee – tearing her anterior cruciate ligament (ACL).

“We interviewed three doctors to find the best one,” said Zoe’s mother Samantha Strong, who, herself a doctor, was looking for a physician who could perform a newer technique for ACL reconstruction called a quad tendon autograft.

The best physician to do the surgery ended up being Colin Mansfield, MD, a sports surgeon in the Kaiser Permanente Diablo Sports Medicine department.

“Dr. Mansfield is on the cutting edge,” Strong said, adding that the surgical and physical therapy teams combined helped her recover.  “Zoe went from not being able to do anything in July to winning huge track meets the following April because of the ACL surgery.”

Zoe worked diligently to heal her knee, in conjunction with Kaiser Permanente’s integrated sports rehab teams operating under our data driven return-to-sport testing and training programs.

“Zoe has really been able to excel,” Dr. Mansfield said. “As soon as she returned to sports, she was making personal records.”

A whole-team approach

Brigham Wise, MD, a sports medicine physician with the Kaiser Permanente Diablo Sports Medicine department, says the group serves a large and diverse population, with patients ranging from young athletes to older individuals who are just trying to stay active and healthy. The strength of the department is its integration and collaboration.

“It’s a whole-team approach and we’ve got great physicians and surgeons and excellent [physical] therapists,” Dr. Wise said. “We also focus on prevention to keep patients on the field rather than in our office.”

Doctors in the sports medicine department are also in communication with athletic trainers at local high schools. Zoe’s athletic trainer at  her high school diagnosed an ACL tear and contacted a Kaiser Permanente sports medicine doctor who got Zoe an appointment within two days.

“That kind of communication and facilitation of care is really what makes the system so phenomenal,” Strong said.

The department provides treatment across the full spectrum of sports care, from improving sports metrics to major biologic cartilage surgery and advanced joint restoration. While not only setting standards for excellent care, the department aims to be on the forefront of innovation and is a busy referral site for challenging surgeries and injuries from other areas.

“Something that maybe not everyone understands about Kaiser is that we really are working at the highest levels with the newest technology,” said Dr. Mansfield. “Our team approach has created an incredibly unique partnership which has been the secret to our success, and I’ve been so fortunate to be inspired and learn from so many talented mentors and colleagues within our department.”

Outside of the hospital, Dr. Mansfield continues to push innovation, creating AI algorithms and wearable-free computer vision programs dedicated to injury prevention, which are now being used with the D-1 athletes at Saint Mary’s College where he serves as one of the team physicians.

Getting patients back to doing what they love

The Kaiser Permanente Diablo Sports Medicine department’s priority is to return patients to their normal range of activities as soon and as safely as possible.

“I really enjoy helping people get back to doing what they love,” said Dr. Wise, who has worked at Kaiser Permanente for 15 years. “That includes high school and college athletes, as well as the weekend warriors who just want to get back to playing pickleball, or running their next marathon.”

“It’s amazing the stories that I hear. I love just talking to [patients] about their lives. It’s great to hear about their sports and activities,” Dr. Wise said. “I learn all sorts of interesting stuff, especially with the older patients.”

Now a high school senior, Zoe Lahanas can attest to the importance of getting back to doing what one loves. Once an avid soccer player, Zoe is now a track star winning medals in the Junior Olympics and is being recruited actively by NCAA Division 1 colleges. “What they have done at Kaiser Permanente in making things right is amazing,” Strong said. “Kaiser has done an incredible job of taking care of us.”

The Kaiser Permanente Diablo Sports Medicine team comprises sports medicine physicians Brigham Wise, MD, Steven Stappaerts, MD, Ronald Yee, MD with sports surgeons Damon Ng, MD, Kenneth Seiber, MD, Jason Ho, MD, Colin Mansfield, MD, Nathan Hart, MD, Joanne Kim, MD, and Ronald Wyatt, MD.