Logan - Orthopaedic Trauma Program

Logan in a wheelchair with his leg elevated

At 15 years-old, Western Pa. native Logan H. loved competing in “hill climbing” on his dirt bike. Hill climbing is a sport of the motorcycle discipline, where riders use dirt bikes to climb off-road courses that go straight up on hills that have extremely steep gradients.

Logan jumping a ramp on his bikeIn June 2021, Logan was competing the Beaverdale Hillclimb about a half hour from his home in Hollsopple. He had been competing there for a couple of years. But that day, he wrecked his bike and immediately knew something was very wrong.

“He stood up [after the accident] but as his mom, I knew he wasn’t okay,” says Brittani, his mother. “He fell back down and we could see he has snapped his leg below his kneecap.”

Once Logan sustained the injury, there was the issue of getting him safely off the hill and into an ambulance so that he could get to a hospital. The ambulance couldn’t navigate the extremely hilly and rocky terrain, so Logan had to be moved into the bed of someone’s pickup truck and brought to the bottom of the hill before he could be moved into the ambulance.

“That ordeal to get him off the hill took about an hour, and he was in a lot of pain,” says Brittani.

Logan was taken to a nearby hospital where some initial imaging was done to see the extent of Logan’s injury and his leg was reset.

“Doctors there looked at us and said, ‘We’re pretty confident we can [fix Logan’s injury],’ and we decided we just weren’t comfortable with that level of confidence and we’re going to Pittsburgh. We knew Pittsburgh would be the best place for Logan’s care,” said Brittani.

So that day, Logan was transferred via helicopter to UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh. When they arrived at UPMC Children’s Hospital’s Emergency Department (ED) they met by Z. Deniz Olgun, MD, a double-fellowship trained orthopaedic surgeon and director of the Pediatric Orthopaedic Trauma Program at Children’s.

Logan sitting on a bikeAfter meeting with Dr. Olgun, it was decided that Logan would go into surgery that night to have an external fixator placed into his leg.

He had the external fixator for about 2 weeks awaiting swelling to improve before returning to Children’s to have the external fixator removed and to have plates and rods inserted into the leg for stability. After this surgery, Logan was fitted with a wound vacuum device – or wound vac – that would decrease air pressure on Logan’s wound and help it heal faster.

After 2-3 days, the wound vac was removed and Logan’s recovery journey began.

Dr. Olgun advised that the plates and rods stay in Logan’s leg during the initial stages of recovery for added stability and protection. She said that if they bothered him, he could have them removed after 18 months. She also wanted him to keep in mind that there will be another healing process when the plates and rods are removed, as the bones that they were inserted into will need to heal.

Logan had to be in a wheelchair for a while, but after he was able to put some weight on his leg, he began physical therapy near his hometown about 3 times a week for several months. He slowly was able to put more and more weight on the leg.

“He really had to learn to use his leg again,” said Brittani. “They had him walking on a treadmill, on a stationary bike, doing mobility and strength.”

Logan laying in a hospital bedLogan continued his physical therapy while checking in with Dr. Olgun at regular intervals so that she could monitor his healing. Conveniently, Brittani and Logan were able to have the check ins at Children’s East in Monroeville, which is closer to the family’s hometown and saved them from having to make the trip into the city each time.

“Dr. Olgun and her whole team were amazing,” said Brittani. “I’d always heard good things [about Children’s], other parents would say how great it was. But I never had to take my kids there before this. They were very kid friendly. Very accommodating.”

Logan still has the plates and screws in his leg, but he has otherwise made a great recovery. Brittani says that he still lacks a few degrees of knee flexion, but that they were very happy with his outcomes and level of mobility regained.

Incidentally, after Logan recovered from the broken leg, the very next year he sustained a broken ankle on his other leg in an unrelated accident.

Brittani says they, again, started at an orthopedist near their hometown. Logan said that he felt safe with Dr. Olgun and asked if they could go back to Children’s. So the family ended up taking another trip to see Dr. Olgun and had his broken ankle treated successfully with casting.

Logan walking with a woman helping himNowadays, Logan is going into his senior year of high school is “back to normal.” He’s back on his dirt bike and sticking to drag racing instead of hill climbing.

Brittani says that one of the things she appreciated most about Dr. Olgun and the Children’s team is that they were “thorough, patient, and caring.”

“Any questions that we had, [the Children’s staff] would take the time to thoroughly answer them or point us in the right direction,” says Brittani. “And I appreciated how they would talk with a child as a child – they wouldn’t use big, long words like you would when talking to adults and made it understandable for Logan where he was at.”

Logan echoed his mother’s sentiments saying, “You could tell Dr. Olgun really cared. We weren’t treated like just another patient. She reassured me that it was the route she would take if it were her or her own kid. It made me feel very comfortable about the decisions that were being made.”