Kelley Cain's surgery called a 'slam dunk'

Jenny Moshak described the surgery to realign Kelley Cain's right knee as "a slam dunk" and believes that the freshman center will see "marked improvements" as she goes through the rehab process and eventually returns to the basketball court.

"She's doing well. The surgery went very well," said Moshak, the assistant athletics director for sports medicine.

Kelley Cain remains hospitalized at St. Mary's Medical Center as planned. Coach Pat Summitt made a visit to the hospital after practice Wednesday to visit with Cain, who is scheduled to be released Thursday.

"She's off her drip-pain medicine, and now onto oral meds," Moshak said. "They took the drain out of her knee. She's progressing as she needs to be."

Cain's parents, Harold and Lynda Ward Cain, were in Knoxville for the Tuesday surgery, and her mother remains in town. Her father will return later this week.

Moshak was present for the three-part operation by Drs. Greg Mathien and Russell Betcher – lateral release, medial plication and Fulkerson osteotomy – for reasons both supportive and practical.

"Support of the athlete, support of the family and to be intimate with the procedure so that it enhances my ability to rehabilitate," Moshak said. "I talked very candidly with the surgeons and they say, ‘Watch out for this or look at this and this is why we do this,' and that just enhances the way I can rehab."

Cain, who will redshirt this season, will undergo rehab upon release from the hospital with minimal exercises at the start.

"She's locked in a brace, and we'll be working on quad sets and straight leg raises," Moshak said. "We've got to get the quad functioning before we start unlocking the brace for flexion. Her ability to bend is going to be the ability of her quad to take the force of bending versus the patellar tendon."

The procedure realigned Cain's right kneecap to correct its biomechanical structure. Cain injured the knee in early November after suffering a subluxation, something her kneecap was prone to allow because of how it was formed.

"I think she is going to see marked improvements," Moshak said. "I think the procedure was a slam dunk. Now it's just a matter of getting her rehabilitated from that process and getting her back on the court.

"I think this procedure is going to help her obtain a knee not only for the ability to play basketball but for her to do recreational stuff when she is older."

The surgery involves realignment of the bone and tightening of loose fibrous supports. Patients have reported feeling as if they got a new knee.

"People have described that feeling in the past," Moshak said. "It probably will (for Cain). She said the tape job I put on her, which moved her kneecap over, she felt a whole lot better walking around with that on than when she didn't have it on. This probably will give her a different feel even in daily life activities, but she wasn't as obvious as a case as someone who would have spontaneous episodes over and over again.

"We rehabbed a (basketball) manager who had both knees done because that was what was happening with her. (Cain is) not that extreme, but she's going to see some excellent results. I really think now we can help her."

The other Tennessee players are doing fine, including Candace Parker, who injured a shoulder, and Alberta Auguste, who injured a calf, earlier this season. Alexis Hornbuckle has chronically sore knees, but was able to participate in every practice during the exam break.

"That's just something on a maintenance schedule that we're going to have to stay on top of," Moshak said. "She knows it."

Summitt trusts Hornbuckle to know when she needs to rest and miss all or a portion of practice. Summitt also has mixed up-tempo practices with easier ones and varied the length of the sessions.

"Pat has been very smart," Moshak said.

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