August 22, 2023

Hip Preservation for Pole Vaulting National Champion, Kailee Swart

By Kailee Swart 

Fishers, Indiana 

Kailee Swart suffered debilitating hip pain that was quite unusual for such a young and healthy person. She had many treatments from specialists back home in Indiana, including surgeries and therapy. Her pain took her out of practicing gymnastics, and failed treatments left her questioning whether she would even live comfortably. 

Now pain free after periacetabular osteotomy (PAO), a hip preservation surgery with Washington University Orthopedics expert, John Clohisy, MD, Kailee is pole vaulting at a highly competitive level. Kailee went from being unable to walk or sit comfortably, to pole-vaulting her way to a scholarship at the University of South Dakota. From her own account, Kailee is healthy and happy! She intends to study medicine with the dream of helping others who face similar injuries. 

Read the full story in Kailee's words, below. 

"I had my PAO surgery after finishing my sophomore year of high school. I had three hip surgeries prior to my PAO.


Since 7th grade, I had always had a pain in my hip. When I first started experiencing the pain, my parents took me to a sports medicine doctor. Soon after, I started physical therapy for what I thought would be a few months. It turned into around three years.


At the start of my journey in Indiana, an MRI led doctors to the conclusion that I had a ischiofemoral impingement. A few months later I had surgery. After recovering from surgery and doing many months of PT, I felt that I still had pain in my hip area. The doctor then told me I had a torn labrum, so I had surgery again. Again…my hip pain was not relieved.


After several misdiagnoses and years of doctor visits, I was very frustrated. At this point I wasn’t sure I had any hope of living a comfortable lifestyle – sitting and walking without pain – let alone participating in gymnastics.


Eventually, I was told I had minor hip dysplasia. My doctor then referred me to John Clohisy, MD, in St. Louis, knowing he is the best doctor to perform this surgery. 


In July of 2021, I had PAO surgery at Barnes-Jewish West County Hospital with Dr. Clohisy. The surgery recovery was tough, but it was all worth it. After finding my way to Dr. Clohisy, I am finally pain free.


Now, I am a pole vaulter after having to quit gymnastics due to my hip pain. This surgery has enabled me to become a national champion, an Indiana state record holder, a school record holder, one of the top high school pole vaulters in the country.


I cannot put into words how grateful I am for Dr. Clohisy and this surgery. It has given me the ability to live not only a pain-free lifestyle, but also to compete in track and field to the best of my ability. Now, I will be continuing my track and field career at the University of South Dakota on track scholarship and on a pre-med track with the dream of helping others with similar injuries and situations like mine!"

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