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More Than A Surgeon

Ten months after an ACL surgery, Trinity Cheatom was back on the basketball court with a new fan to cheer her on.


They are words that no athlete wants to hear. Especially if you are a high school basketball star with a bright collegiate career ahead of you. “You’ve torn your ACL.”

Trinity Cheatom, a student athlete at Roosevelt High School, was mid-game in April 2021 when she went up for a layup, landed wrong and tweaked her knee. She was able to play through the pain for the remainder of the game, but later went to see a physical therapist for further evaluation. After receiving an MRI and consulting with Dr. Christopher Kim, an orthopaedic surgeon at The Iowa Clinic, it was confirmed she had torn her ACL.

ACL injuries are one of the most common knee injuries. An ACL tear occurs when the connective tissue of the femur and tibia is strained or torn. These injuries are most common in sports that involve quick stops or changes in direction, jumping and landing. An ACL tear almost always requires surgery to repair. Without it, the knee becomes unstable and can result in other injuries and a quicker progression of arthritis.Trinity Cheatom playing basketball

As a patient, it is important to choose the right surgeon for you. In her initial consultation with Dr. Kim, Cheatom felt comfortable and knew he was dedicated to helping her. “He was very informative about how hard recovery was going to be, but he also made me feel like I could do it and get back to the game,” she recalled. She felt confident about choosing him as her surgeon and knew he would deliver the results she wanted.

Road to Recovery

After a successful surgery, Cheatom returned to see Dr. Kim for several follow up appointments. Although young patients typically recover from this procedure quicker than older patients, he was still astonished by just how quickly she was progressing. “My hope was to be back for my senior season and he understood that,” said Cheatom. “We both made sure I was doing what I needed to do to get there.”

While she worked hard day in and day out at physical therapy, Dr. Kim also played an active role in her recovery.

“He took time to visit the physical therapy location I rehabbed at and talked with my physical therapist often about how I could get back quicker.”

Returning to the Court

In December, just shy of nine months post-op, Dr. Kim gave Cheatom the all clear to return to basketball. At that appointment, he asked when she would be playing in her first game, as he was hoping to attend at least one game this season. Unsure of the exact date, Cheatom told him she would be back on the court in mid to late December but didn't think much about that conversation again until a few months later.

Dr. Kim honored his word. On February 8, 2022, when the Roosevelt High School girls’ basketball team defeated Urbandale for the first time in six years, he was in the stands cheering on Cheatom and her teammates. “Trinity is a fantastic patient, who worked very hard after her ACL surgery and it certainly showed on the court,” said Kim.

“Having him come to a game was just amazing because he has a busy schedule and I’m not his only patient. It really meant a lot and showed how big of a heart he has,” Cheatom said.

At The Iowa Clinic, we are committed to providing the best possible patient care and are proud to have physicians like Dr. Kim, who’s above and beyond actions embody what it means to be more than just a physician.

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