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Dancing Through Adversity: Kelsey Ormiston's Resilient Return to the Stage with OrthoCarolina

A Journey of Hope, Healing, and Determination back to dance

Meet Kelsey Ormiston, the young dancer who faced not only one but two knee injuries in just 2 years that she didn't let hold her back from achieving her dream. Hear her story of determination and hard work to get back on the stage:

Disruption from the Dancefloor

Kelsey has loved dancing for as long as she can remember, spending every chance she got to be on the stage. When she was four, her mom enrolled her in dance class with her older sister to "get her energy out." While her sister eventually moved on to other sports, Kelsey fell in love with dance and started training in ballet, pointe, hip-hop, and other dance styles. In 2019, Kesley was practicing a jump she had been doing since she was 6 years old. During the landing, her foot and knee went in different directions, causing her to dislocate her knee. Over the next year, Kelsey still didn’t feel that her knee was back to normal despite letting it heal. Then again in September 2020, she experienced a second dislocation, causing her to immediately need surgery.

Riboh's Leap of Faith

After her first visit with Dr. Jonathan Riboh at OrthoCarolina's Sports Medicine Center, Kelsey knew he was the right surgeon for her. "Hearing Dr. Riboh say that I would be able to go back to doing what I love gave me so much hope, and he made me feel very comfortable" Ormiston stated. Dr. Riboh ordered an MRI, showing she had kneecap instability and that part of her bone cartilage had been knocked off in her patella. If Kelsey never got that loose cartilage fixed, it would be like having a pothole in the road and her kneecap wouldn’t track properly.

This is also known as an osteochondral fracture and immediately needs surgery. The procedure involved realigning and reattaching the broken piece so her joints could get back to normal. Kelsey was nervous as she had not had any surgeries before. However, she knew surgery was the route she must take if she ever wanted to get back to dancing.

Getting Back to the Barre

Just two days after surgery, Kelsey had her first physical therapy (PT) session to get her knee moving. This was very important as anytime a knee joint is opened surgically; stiffness is a common side effect. While the recovery process was long and challenging, her muscle strength returned quickly.

For Kelsey, her biggest challenge was the mental hurdle of rebuilding the trust in her knee stability. While building that confidence took almost a year, the support of Dr. Riboh and her PT team helped Kelsey get fully back to dancing. "You want the patient to feel like by the end of the process you are almost a friend. Someone who has their back, with their best interest at heart, and who is going to talk truthfully to them."- stated Dr. Riboh in an interview with OrthoCarolina.

Pointe-ed Back to the Stage

Three years after her surgery, Kelsey is not just back to dancing; she's starring in "The Nutcracker" as Clara and the Sugar Plum Fairy and is off to UNC-Wilmington in the fall of 2024 to further her dance career.

We can't wait to see her chassé towards success and continue to inspire others with her passion and determination.


Watch our exclusive video interview with Kelsey and Dr. Riboh. Hear directly from them about the injuries, treatment, surgery, and the road back to the stage.

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