Sherry’s Story

University Hospitals Sports Medicine Program Keeps Three Young Athletes Healthy and Active

Maryn, Sherry and Madison Whay. Brooke Whay in foreground.

Sherry Whay has three talented daughters who participate in high-level athletic activities, so it’s no surprise that she would eventually need the help of a great sports medicine program. At University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital, she found that and more, including wellness advice that has enabled her daughters to continue doing what they love.

Whay is a Cleveland-area resident and president of her own sports/entertainment management and marketing firm, Fairwhay Management. She first sought a pediatric sports medicine specialist when her eldest daughter, Maryn Taylor Bieganski, started experiencing lower back pain at age 14. When she was younger, Maryn had been a dancer, but at age 12 she left dance to focus on swimming. And this activity was taking a physical toll.

“She is a butterflier, which is hard on the body,” said Whay. “A pediatrician said it wasn’t serious, but the pain became severe. That was a tough time.”

Whay took her daughter to a noted sports medicine doctor, who put her in a hard back brace. It was no fun for a girl in high school, but she persevered. She also completed all the prescribed physical therapy.

“But it really wasn’t helping,” said Whay. “We were beside ourselves. She wanted to swim in college and had dreams of making an Olympic trial cut. The pain was holding her back. Then a friend recommended Dr. Susannah Briskin.”

Dr. Briskin is a pediatric sports medicine physician at UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital. There are only about 120 fellowship-trained pediatric sports medicine doctors in the country, and UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s hospital has two of them – Dr. Briskin and Dr. Amanda Weiss Kelly.

“Within four weeks of seeing Dr. Briskin, Maryn was making more progress than she had after a year with the other doctor,” said Whay. “Dr. Briskin is phenomenal. It’s not very often in life that you meet someone with the kind of passion she has for her work. At other medical institutions, we just got shuffled in and out. But Maryn actually looked forward to going to UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital.”

“I remember Dr. Briskin telling Maryn, ‘You will swim again. I will make sure it happens,’” added Whay. Dr. Briskin knew that Maryn had to swim in an important meet, just six weeks from her first appointment. She tailored the treatment and physical therapy plan to meet that goal.

Dr. Briskin kept the family informed by e-mail, which was very convenient. She was always available to answer questions about training and therapy.

“I was extremely impressed with the follow-up and personal attention,” said Whay.

When Younger Daughters Needed Help, UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital Was There

That positive experience convinced Whay to bring in her middle daughter, Brooke Emory Bieganski, a dedicated dancer with knee issues.

“The experience was just as positive,” said Whay.

An athlete herself, Dr. Briskin determined that Brooke’s knee issues were mostly related to a growth spurt. She prescribed rest and directed her to a physical therapist. The therapist recommended ways to put less stress on her knees.

And so it went for Madison Olivia Bieganski, Whay’s youngest daughter. At the first sign of back problems, Whay rushed her to see Dr. Briskin. Similar to the care provided for her sisters, the team quickly set Madison on a path to healing.

Three Happy Endings

Madison, Maryn and Brooke Whay

Maryn is attending the University of South Carolina on a swimming scholarship, even though her original doctor said she would never swim again.

Brooke is also doing well and will pursue a dance career after high school. “Her knee issue comes and goes, but when she does feel pain she knows how to treat it herself,” said Whay.

Madison has grown extremely fast – six inches in just six months. She is active in track, volleyball and diving. Despite a scoliosis diagnosis, she is still in the game.

“It is so important to have young athletes seen by a specialist who can set the path for the rest of their sports career,” said Whay. “I’m extremely grateful to Dr. Briskin and UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital.”

Later in life, Whay’s daughters may benefit from the integration of UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital’s pediatric sports medicine program with the adult sports medicine program at UH. This provides direct access to leading orthopedic surgeons and physicians like Dr. Briskin and Dr. Kelly who can continue to see and follow-up with patients as they transition into their adult years.

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