Physical therapy means so much more to me than fixing a knee, ankle or back. When I was 16, I tore my ACL and meniscus playing basketball. After undergoing reconstructive knee surgery, I had a long road of recovery before I could return to the court. I had no idea how this kind of injury could not stop me from playing basketball but affect so many other important aspects of my life. After many hours of rehab and hard work, I returned to playing and committed to a college team. Only two years later, I tore my other ACL and meniscus which resulted in five total knee surgeries in five years. Here are three tips I learned from experience and my work as a physical therapist:
- Body mechanics: Proper body mechanics and loading strategies are crucial to prevent acute and chronic overuse injuries. It can even improve performance and speed with running, cutting and jumping activities.
- Strength and conditioning: Safe strength and conditioning with appropriate recovery time can have huge effects on an athlete’s performance and keeping them on the field.
- Education: Educating patients and athletes on a specific, individualized training protocol is crucial. Once a musculoskeletal injury takes place, that athlete is at higher risk for the same injury. Many coaches and parents are aware injury prevention programs exist, but few are implementing them into their training.
My goal is to educate and perform injury prevention techniques to stop injuries before they happen, but also give the best care possible when injuries occur. Through my personal experience I’ve developed a passion for working with athletes in all stages of rehabilitation so that they may return to their sport and have a better quality of life. At some of my lowest points, having a compassionate, knowledgeable physical therapist made the biggest difference.