Avera Medical Minute AMcK: Taking a team approach to getting injured athletes back on the field

By  | 

For young athletes, a sports injury can be heartbreaking. Returning to competition takes a lot of hard work and that’s where a dedicated team at the Avera Sports Institute is helping young athletes get back in the game.

“I think it’s a proven fact that if you do your exercises and you do them well, and you do them right, that you can do whatever you put your mind to,” said Josh Thomas, Garretson High School senior.

Thomas is one step closer to getting back on the football field. An ATV accident last summer landed him in emergency surgery on his ankle.

“I was like, it’s broke – right away, I knew it,” said Thomas.

Avera Sports Institute athletic trainer Erik Hanson and physical therapist Alisa Darling are helping Thomas get competition ready.

“He came in and he wasn’t able to put any weight down on that foot. And so my role was to get range of motion going, teach him how to stretch and then do a lot of the stretching that he wasn’t able to do at home,” said Darling.

Thomas initially saw Darling two to three times a week. But the hard work didn’t stop there; he was expected to keep up on his exercises at home.

“When it came time to start putting weight down, I told him the more range of motion we can get, the more stretching you can do on your own, the more gains we can make along the road, the quicker your recovery is going to be, the faster you’ll be able to do those fun more fast-paced drills, the more football specific drills, the more high agility type drills,” said Darling.

It takes a team to get athletics back to full speed.

“So my job with the ARC (Avera Return to Competition) Program is to kind of bridge the gap between traditional therapy, back to getting out on the court or field -- kind of that final stage, that functional stage of rehab, trying to get them comfortable with doing the drills that coach is going to want them to do without any hesitation, so they feel comfortable once they get back out there,” said Hanson.

Again, Hanson says athletes must also put the effort in on their own to achieve the best results.

“We can as therapists and athletic trainers, we can tell anybody to go do these exercises, they need to work on this but there needs to be that motivation factor there -- otherwise we’re just preaching to the choir,” said Hanson.

“I knew it was going to be a long process but I just kind of stuck with it and trusted everybody and they led me to the promised land,” said Thomas.

The team at Avera Sports Institute helps bridge the gap between athletes completing their post-surgical therapy and getting back on the field.

For more information, just call 877-AT-AVERA.