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Active Four-Year-Old Carries on with Crutches

denynThe Beachel family of dairy farmers drinks a lot of milk, but even a calcium-rich diet cannot always protect the bones of a very active four-year-old.

Young Denyn Beachel of Danville had been playing with his new puppy when he accidentally kicked a storage trunk and then fell onto a rocking chair. With no more than a tiny bump, his parents figured it was probably just a slight injury.

But that night Denyn would cry with even the slightest movement of his leg. The next morning his parents rushed him to the Emergency Room at Geisinger Medical Center in Danville where an Xray revealed he had a fracture across his entire tibia. Denyn was referred to Stacy Frye, MD, a non-operative pediatric orthopaedist.

“Denyn had a routine fall and a small bump that turned into a really impressive fracture across the middle of his tibia,” says Dr. Frye. “I put him in a long leg cast that ran from the top of his thigh to his big toe, but it didn’t seem to slow him down.”

In fact, Denyn took to his crutches quite well and was quickly motoring around like it was nothing. Says his mom, Melissa, “He adapted like it was his new normal.”

Throughout his care at Geisinger, Denyn and his family received support from Sarah Hoffman, child life specialist.  Sarah helped normalize the medical environment for Denyn by providing toys and games, she prepared him for the X-rays by walking him through photos of X-ray machines and the room, and she talked about casting in the same way and even had Denyn select the color of his cast.  During the casting, Sarah used an iPad to distract him and related everything that he was experiencing to what she had taught him earlier.

“Sarah was very helpful for all of us,” says Melissa.  “The teaching and positive reinforcement were great…and Denyn loved the iPad distraction.”


After four weeks, Dr. Frye took X-rays of Denyn to ensure the bone was healing properly. “It was so neat to see the X-rays and the new bone forming,” says Melissa.  “Dr. Frye was really outstanding in that regard; she walked us through every aspect of his care and kept us very involved so we never had any unanswered questions.”

While crutches did not slow Denyn down one bit, at seven weeks it was time for the cast to come off.  “We expected Denyn to be stiff,” says Dr. Frye. “But he had fantastic range of motion and was able to bear weight.” Running, playing and being active would bring Denyn back to the kid he was before the fracture.

Dr. Frye is one physician in a team of three fellowship-trained pediatric orthopaedists at Geisinger Medical Center.  She and her colleagues, William Mirenda, MD, chief of pediatric orthopaedics, and Meagan Fernandez, DO, pediatric orthopaedic surgeon, are able to provide service not only to the Danville area, but they also do outreach care at other clinics in the region. “It’s a nice team approach that allows us to cover so many areas,” says Dr. Frye.