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Ali Taylor with two other members of the Dyer County Coed Cheer Team

Flying high after knee surgery

Ali Taylor is basking in the glory of the national and world cheerleading championships she won in February in Orlando with her Dyer County Coed Cheer teammates.

Her squad has won four Universal Cheerleaders Association Large Coed National Championships in five years. While the feat is remarkable in its own right, it would have been impossible for Ali to compete without Dr. Jason Hutchison and West Tennessee Bone & Joint Clinic.

Ali, who tore her ACL when she was 7, found herself sidelined from many activities her friends could do. “She was out riding a bicycle, and she fell off,” said Carla Taylor, Ali’s mother. “That’s when her knee problems started happening.”

Carla is an X-ray technician in Dyersburg, and she knew Dr. Hutchison, who sees patients at West Tennessee Bone & Joint Clinic’s satellite office in Dyersburg. He diagnosed the tear in Ali’s knee, but he was reluctant to operate on a child Ali’s age because of the risks, particularly with impacting her growth plate.

The Taylors sought advice from doctors at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville and other orthopedic practices, such as the Campbell Clinic in Cordova. They chose to stick with West Tennessee Bone & Joint Clinic.

The initial plan was to delay surgery until Ali was older. Although she could walk and play, her injury restricted her activities, and she had to wear a customized brace. “There were a lot of things as a child that she was wanting to do but couldn’t.”

One day, when Ali was 9, she proved why she couldn’t do everything she wanted. While jumping on a trampoline with friends, she tore her meniscus.

With the new injury, Dr. Hutchison recommended surgery. He said the impacts to her quality of life would be too great without the procedure. A short time later, with help from Dr. David Pearce, he carefully rebuilt her knee, repairing both her ACL and her meniscus.

After the surgery and a regimen of physical therapy, Ali was back in action. And when the opportunity to join a cheerleading squad presented itself, she jumped at it.

“She really wanted to be a cheerleader,” Carla said. “It’s just one thing she’s always wanted to do.”

Ali, now 16, is a flyer and a tumbler for the Dyer County Coed Cheer squad. She also enjoys other sports that she could never have done before surgery, such as skiing. Her past injuries aren’t slowing her down.

“Ali is doing great,” her mom says. “She’s doing things that I honestly didn’t think she would be able to do with her knee. As long as she keeps her leg stretched, she does whatever she wants to do.”