Braeden & Athena Fulton

Braeden Fulton tore a tendon in his finger playing football and didn’t report it to his mother right away. It curled up and become immovable, seriously affecting his ability to play basketball. They visited hand specialist Jennifer Amstadter, PA-C at OPA who gave them treatment choices and guided them through the recovery process.

Braeden:

We're at football practice and we're passing the ball around, and I went to catch the ball. My fingers were spread apart, and the ball came down and hit the side of my pinky and ripped the tendon in the bottom of it. It hurt really bad, and I knew there was something wrong.

I couldn't really bend my finger. It felt like it was kind of stuck, and the bottom of it really burned where the tendon was ripped. It really burned and hurt every time that I moved it or anything. …And then I tried to move it and I couldn't move it at all.

Athena:

I remember looking at his hand and seeing that his pinkie was curled and it was very strange to me that it would be like that. I asked him to move it and he couldn't, he couldn't straighten it out at all. So that's when I decided we should definitely go in to OPA and see what could be done about it, if anything at all.

Braden:

They had model hands and stuff and you can see the different parts of the hand. It was cool to see what your hand actually looks like.

Athena:

From talking with the PA, there were several things that she suggested, and the first one was physical therapy to see what we could do to alleviate the problem with that first, and surgery would be the last thing that we would try if everything else failed. …So I was very, very pleased and relieved to know that there were things that we could do through physical therapy … and that we didn't have to have the surgery.

My main concerns with physical therapy were that he wouldn't be diligent, and perhaps I wouldn't be diligent in keeping up on the splints and the exercises, making sure that he was keeping up on all of that. But an operation is a big deal, whether it's on your hand or anywhere else on your body. Surgery is a big deal. Definitely going through the physical therapy first was the best idea.

Braeden:

Basically, I think it was twice a week, we would go in and we would slowly try to get more movement to my finger and get different things to stretch out my finger and make it so I could move my tendon again, and try to get the tendons to re-fuse and heal. I had to wear the little things that they put on my finger for 30 minutes, a couple times a day.

Athena:

His finger is fully functioning now. He plays basketball and other sports, and doesn't seem to have any aches or pains with it. It's functioning great; I'm very, very pleased with the results, and if we need to have surgery later we can do that. But it would just be for aesthetic reasons, because now it's fine.

ADVICE TO OTHERS:

Athena:

My advice would be to be a bit more diligent in checking over your child more often when they have little aches and pains, especially in their hands or the wrists or anything from playing sports. …Not having a functioning pinkie doesn't seem like it would be a big deal until you try to go play another sport like basketball where you really have to have flexibility.

If we had caught it a little bit sooner he would have had more flexibility and he would have responded to the physical therapy better. We were very pleased with the results, but it would have been a lot better if I had caught it sooner.

I also wish I’d been more diligent about making sure that he was wearing his splint when he was supposed to be wearing it.

I would just like to add that I really truly do like the staff there — from the front desk to the person who put his cast on when he broke his arm. They care about your well-being, they really do. …That’s why I recommend OPA to everyone I know when they have injuries.