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First patient undergoes new ‘BEAR’ procedure for torn ACL in San Diego County

Jenna chose to be bold and be the first patient in San Diego County to undergo a revolutionary new procedure that allows her to heal her own ACL.

OCEANSIDE, Calif. — Scripps Clinic is now the first in San Diego County to perform a groundbreaking new procedure to fix ACL tears. CBS 8’s Brian White sat down with Jenna Richardson, who underwent the procedure on Monday after tearing her ACL in July while mountain biking at Whistler Mountain in Canada.

“I came down this huge rock and my bike just kind of fell in a really weird way and my leg went with it,” said Richardson. “Super painful.”

Jenna found out she had torn her ACL, a ligament in her knee. For someone as active as she is, this was a problem. Traditional ACL reconstructive surgeries would call for tissue to be taken from other parts of her body or from a cadaver, and there can be some drawbacks.

“A lot of these procedures, they come with a lot of arthritis and just pain and popping sensations,” said Richardson. “I just wanted to be able to get back to all the sports I love to do.”

Jenna chose to be bold and be the first patient in San Diego County to undergo a revolutionary new procedure that has been used in other parts of the country recently, allowing a patient to heal their own ACL. The new BEAR implant, which stands for ‘Bridge Enhanced ACL Restoration,’ was approved by the FDA in December 2020.

“It’s a little marshmallow. It’s a collagen sponge that we can use,” said Dr. Tim Wang, orthopedic surgeon at Scripps Clinic. “We borrow some of the patient’s own blood and then load it onto this sponge and then surround the ACL repair with this implant to help support the blood clot and allow the cells to heal.”

On Monday, Dr. Wang performed the procedure on Jenna and it was a huge success.

“She did great,” said Dr. Wang. “She was actually up and talking 15 minutes afterward. We do this with a light anesthesia.”

Within an hour, Jenna was able to leave the clinic.

“I feel fine so it’s kind of amazing,” said Richardson while laughing. “I was worried I was going to be super out of it, but I’ve been totally fine.”

Now, Jenna is on her road to recovery, which includes a knee brace and crutches for the next six weeks along with physical therapy while her ACL fully heals over the next nine months. As for the collagen implant, it’ll absorb into her body after a few months.

“I’m just planning to back in a year to Whistler and conquer that rock roll again and make it through and yea, just be fully healed and pretend like it never happened,” said Richardson.

When told that she has the mind of a champion, Richardson said, “I hope so, yes. The mindset of someone who’s not ready to give up.” 

To contact Dr. Tim Wang, click HERE. For more info on the BEAR procedure, go HERE.

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