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Our Patients. Their Stories: Leo & Hunter Patenaude

Our Patients. Their Stories: Leo & Hunter Patenaude

They are coming back with a vengeance.

Deb Patenaude, Leo and Hunter's Mother, Hartland, VT

Leo and Hunter Patenaude have been racing snowmobiles since they were in grade school. Now 20 and 17, they have made their way to the professional Snocross circuit, riding as part of the Ingles Performance team based in New York. Both boys compete as part of teams in the East and the West. The sport requires precision, the ability to pass and to manage going 30 feet in the air over a 100 foot distance all while keeping their minds, body and a 500-pound machine in top condition. Race by race, they are building respect among their fellow competitors and ever-watchful sponsors. Their goal is to eventually compete at the professional level, which likely will guarantee a future spot at the ESPN Winter X Games. While Leo and Hunter like the feeling of winning, accomplishment and the adrenaline rush on the course, little did they know that their 2014-2015 season would get off to a rough start.

Hunter's surgery

Hunter was getting ready to start his first race in Duluth, Minnesota during Thanksgiving weekend of 2014. During his second practice day on the course, he didn't have enough speed as he landed stiff-legged off of a jump, hyperextending his knee. After various appointments and scansin Minnesota , the family was not able toget a definitive answer. Hunter remembers, "When we got home, my mom wanted me to go to Dartmouth-Hitchcock immediately because we've always gone there. She dropped off my MRI images and I went in later that day. Before I even saw him, Dr. James Ames had already scheduled surgery for me the following week. I had a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), medial collateral ligament (MCL) and a torn meniscus which was flipped in half. Because of the extent of my injuries, Dr. Ames didn't want to wait."

Hunter's surgery went smoothly and Sports Medicine Athletic Trainer, Molly McNeil, along with his personal physical therapist were able to get him on a regimen to rehabilitate his knee in time to get back on the football field the following fall. According to Hunter's mom, Deb, "Throughout the whole process Hunter had a determination that was incredible. He progressed leaps and bounds. The encouragement from the team in Sports Medicine really helped him to know he was doing the right thing as he pushed himself. Molly was available for all of our questions of what was normal and what wasn't."

Leo's experience with Dr. Ames

Just a few short months later, Hunter's brother Leo, then 20, was racing in Vermont at Magic Mountain. The previous weekend, he had hurt his knee by twisting it at a race in Michigan. With two laps to go in the race, he hit a jump and landed on an ice patch. His knee twisted and bent inwards. Leo recalls, "I knew it was not good. As soon as I stopped my sled on the side, I fell off and said, ‘My knee is gone. My season is over.'" The Patenaude's knew just where they would go – back to Dr. Ames. An MRI determined that Leo had torn his ACL and his meniscus. His mother Deb says, "Leo holds his body very tight. They wanted him to have his knee as straight as possible going into surgery so that he could get back to normal quickly during his recovery so they started him with physical therapy." Leo had his surgery at the end of April 2015. By the end of October, he met with Dr. Ames to go through the sports physical and passed with flying colors, just in time to get back on the track for his next Snocross season.

A grateful family

Both boys credit their family for the support they needed to get through their injuries with such success. "I am proud that they are respectful to everybody – doctors, other riders, officials, mechanics, their mother and I," their father, Andre, says. "What they have accomplished in their life is amazing to us. They have goals and they stick to them. I want to thank Dr. Ames for taking care of our boys. They didn't need significant doses of pain medication to do it. They used their minds and their attitudes to get through it.  I'm proud that they are doing so well."

Adds Deb, "They are coming back this season with a vengeance – they want to come out swinging. They protect one another on and off the track. If one isn't on the podium, they hope the other one is."

The only complaint from Leo and Hunter about their first surgery experiences? Hunter was disappointed that his scar wasn't as big as his brother's. The competitive spirit runs deep in the Patenaude boys.

See the Patenaude boys' in action during a Snocross race: https://youtu.be/RvGN83djxNs