Kerri Kriech, a recent FSU alum, former Choctaw High School cheerleader, and current Choctaw Cheer Head Coach, faced a serious injury that could have ended her cheer career in just 6th grade, but instead her struggle has become an incredible story of success.
In 2009, Kerri suffered a distal radius fracture…
Though wrist fractures are severe injuries, it is not uncommon to continue normal use after the injury without knowing the true severity. In Kerri’s case, that was three weeks. After finally going to the hospital, Kerri was told her wrist was severely broken. She was taken into immediate surgery to re-break her radius and implant plates and screws into the bone to keep it in place.
In the summer after 9th grade, Kerri started feeling incredible pain in her wrist once again. She returned to the doctor and found out her tendons had been “shredded to the core” and if she had waited much longer could have completely ruptured.
Generally, this shredding is caused by plates that are too long, poor bone stock, or plates that loosen. In Kerri’s case, though she had been told she could live with the plates and screws for the rest of her life, one of the screws had penetrated her bone and damaged tendons on the other side. Because of this, she had to undergo plate/screw removal as well as tendon repair.
Tendon grafts are a procedure in which a piece of tendon is taken from the foot or another part of the body and is then reattached to the surrounding connective tissue of the damaged tendon. Kerri’s surgeons were able to use intact tendons from her injured wrist, which is evident in the abundance of incisions and scars still on her wrist today.
Unfortunately, tendon injuries have little chance of complete restoration. Even after surgical repair, a full range of motion is rarely achieved, especially as scar tissue continues to form post-surgery between moving surfaces within joints.
After no success with physical therapy, Kerri returned to the doctor and was told her tendon grafts had frozen, so her mobility would remain limited. Additionally, Kerri tried to find other doctors who could improve the condition of her wrist, but none was willing to work over the procedures that had already been done.
Kerri has found ways to carry on with both normal life and a successful cheer career, despite her injury and struggles. She relearned cheer tricks with her left hand in a fist rather than outstretched, and, while cheering, she wears a brace with metal rods on her left arm to help protect her from further damage.
There remains a constant risk that if Kerri’s wrist were to endure a significant blow, she could permanently lose wrist control. Luckily, this is not something that would occur in normal day-to-day life, but cheerleading is a high-risk activity. Despite this, Kerri continued to compete at the collegiate level and currently serves as head coach at her former high school, forever modeling what it means to persevere.