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Experience - Michelle Baker

By Michelle Baker

Michelle Baker, 50, is in constant motion. The active lifestyle of the Asheville, North Carolina, resident includes running, tennis, ballroom dancing, and tae kwon do. But two years ago, she worried that she might have to hang up her sneakers and her martial arts uniform. During a martial arts kick, her left foot, which was supposed to pivot, stayed stationary, while her left knee twisted. She felt no pain, but whenever she took a lateral step the knee buckled. And then it started to swell. After icing it all night, she went to a local orthopedic clinic. The diagnosis: torn ACL—the severe knee injury that makes headlines when it ends the seasons of marquee athletes, such as quarterback Tom Brady.

My Worst Day

I interviewed three surgeons in my state, and all of them said I probably wouldn’t return to my level of activity because I was an older patient. One actually said I should start to get comfortable spending more time on the couch. And I was like, are you kidding me?

What I Did to Get Better

I went to Johns Hopkins and met with Dr. Andrew John Cosgarea, director of Sports Medicine, who was much more reassuring about my potential to recover. He also had experience working with martial arts practitioners. He performed ACL reconstruction surgery on a Friday, and I began physical therapy on Tuesday or Wednesday the following week.

Me Now

I’m back on the martial arts mat! I’m doing tae kwon do two to three times a week, and I’m running and dancing tango. It feels so good. My left knee is actually way stronger than my right knee. I mean, it’s a brand-new ACL while my other knee is 50 years old.


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