When Emily tore her first ACL during a scrimmage in 2018, her family tried to find a local physician where they live near Loma Linda, California. But local pediatric surgeons said it could be weeks before they could see Emily. “We wanted to get help for Emily as fast as we could, and many places
When Emily tore her first ACL during a scrimmage in 2018, her family tried to find a local physician where they live near Loma Linda, California. But local pediatric surgeons said it could be weeks before they could see Emily.
“We wanted to get help for Emily as fast as we could, and many places seemed like they just wanted us to get in line,” says Joe Wiggins, Emily’s dad. “Through our own research we knew only a certain type of surgeon could operate on someone with open growth plates, like Emily, and thankfully someone told us we should try the Cedars-Sinai Kerlan-Jobe Institute.”
The team at Cedars-Sinai immediately sensed and respected the urgency of her situation. The Wiggins family had an appointment with orthopaedic surgeon Carlos Uquillas, MD, within 24 hours of their first phone call.
“Adolescent sports medicine is a particularly specialized field within general sports medicine, from a clinical and surgical perspective,” said Uquillas. “Sports medicine overall has always been more developed in adults than in kids, but many adult concepts can be applied when treating pediatric patients.”
There are not many youth-focused programs in California, but at the Cedars-Sinai Kerlan-Jobe Institute, the experts are dually trained in both adult and pediatric sports medicine. This means they can easily adapt to the needs of their patients based on their age, body type and other factors.
“We can repair ACLs in patients as young as 5 years old, or work with a high school football lineman who might benefit from being treated with a more adult focus,” says Natasha Trentacosta, MD, another orthopaedic surgeon involved in the program. “We treat athletes of all shapes and sizes—anyone with an active lifestyle who wants to get back to it, whether they’re hurt on the playground or seeking a Division I scholarship.”
Joe Wiggins said he was immediately impressed with the way Dr. Uquillas treated them. “At the first visit, we were blown away by his focus on Emily,” Wiggins said. “Everyone felt really comfortable with him. He was really knowledgeable and professional—you can tell when someone is on top of their game.”
Emily, too, said she deeply appreciated the way Dr. Uquillas talked to her directly about her body, surgery and recovery. “At normal doctors’ visits, they address the parents and often don’t talk to kids,” she said. “That was really special to me. He talked to me directly about it in a one-on-one conversation.”