Orthopedic Expertise Puts Young Rugby Player Back in the Game

Torran Raby gets back in the game after broken ankle

Teen athlete Torran Raby and Dr. Steven Copp of Scripps Clinic discuss Torran’s ankle injury and the orthopedic surgery that helped him get back in the game.

Torran Raby was on the other side of the Atlantic when he suffered an injury that threatened to end the elite high school athlete’s promising rugby career. But thanks to Scripps Health, he is well on his way back to the sport he loves.

The Torrey Pines High School senior was practicing with the prestigious High School All-American junior varsity team in Lisbon, Portugal, last March when he was hit with a hard tackle. His fibula, the small bone along the outside of the ankle, bent and then broke. In addition, most of the ligaments and soft tissue around the bones were severely damaged.

At the hospital, Torran learned he would need surgery to repair the extensive injuries so he flew back to San Diego with a medic at his side.

“My husband and I had no idea about any of the orthopedic surgeons here, so we asked people who they recommended,” says Torran’s mother Michelle. “Everyone said the same thing — go see Dr. Copp.”

Steven Copp, MD, division head of orthopedic surgery at Scripps Clinic and a team physician for the San Diego Padres, is an athlete himself. Dr. Copp knew a very complex surgery would be required to put Torran’s ankle back together — and get him back on the rugby field.

In addition to repairing and unbending the bone, Dr. Copp and the surgical team had to re-establish the joint between the tibia and the smaller fibula bone in the ankle. The surgery, which normally last 90 minutes, took more than four hours. Torran woke up with a plate and 11 screws holding his ankle in place.

Torran was sent home to rest — but not for long. “We wanted him to start to move the ankle as soon as he could to help keep the soft tissues from getting stiff,” explains Dr. Copp. “After that, it was Mother Nature and Torran’s willful effort that made the difference in how he recovered.”

“Willful” is certainly the right word to describe Torran’s attitude toward his recovery. He was up and moving around within 10 days of surgery, and wiggling his ankle around a week later.

Torran saw Dr. Copp every few weeks throughout his recovery. “Every time I went in for check-ups, he was really helpful about exactly what I had to do for my recovery,” Torran says. “He would explain every single thing so clearly and gave me step-by-step instructions and goals I had to reach every week.”

Just eleven months after surgery, Torran played for the USA High School All-American rugby team and passed the army physical and six weeks of boot camp to be accepted into West Point Academy. He has recently been nominated to attend the national under-20 rugby team tryouts.

Orthopedic problems can end a young athlete’s career or fundamentally alter life for people of all ages. Your donation can help them get back on their feet.

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