Facing the Challenges of Injury and Recovery
When Emily Kimball suffered a knee injury she thought she could “stretch it out, work through it, rest it some until my next meet” as a standout star on the cross country indoor and outdoor track team, Emily had high hopes of getting a scholarship to West Virginia University where she planned to jump hurdles. She did borrow some time, continuing to run and hurdle during the school year until, one too many jumps caused her to catch a hurdle with her left knee slamming her to the ground. Pain and swelling persisted and she was diagnosed with a torn medial meniscus. Her senior year of running was done, and her dreams of running for WVU seemed shattered.
Is this a story about “True Grit”, the courage, resolve, fortitude and strength of character to battle through adversity? Yes, and the special folks Emily met along the way who assisted in moving onward and encouraging her through some changes in her collegiate path.
First, meet Becky Walters, head Coach for indoor and outdoor track at Boonsboro High school. Becky has coached at BHS for the past 12 years. She has coached teams to 19 state titles in boys and girls cross country, indoor, and outdoor track since the spring of 2011. She is known to be a motivator and inspiration but more importantly a “motherly type” who can sense when one of her athletes is a bit “off” physically or mentally. She does not hesitate to confront issues and encouraging them to get the help that they need. Becky encourages athletes to seek proper and immediate consult for her knee. Following some physical therapy sessions, she continued to have some issues with the knee. She was then referred to Dr. Jeffrey Gilsdorf, an orthopedist specializing in sports medicine and very adept at dealing with the adolescent athletic population. At the Frederick CAO MMI office Dr. Gilsdorf and Donna Quesada, Physician Assistant had an honest discussion with Emily and her parents regarding a necessary surgery for Emily’s torn medial meniscus. It could be repaired, but he discussed at length the necessary rehab following the procedure and the realistic time frame when she could return to track. Emily would need to put her hurdling and running on hold. Dr. Gilsdorf explained, “you can’t alter biology and human biomechanics. It will take some time and hard work, but we can get you back on the path to recovery”. He never once told her she would not run or hurdle again, but did tell her that healing and repair will take patience. Donna referred Emily to physical therapy and reminded her that, “I will see you through this process”. During the next couple of months, Donna was in close communication with Bev Kornides PT regarding Emily’s progress and made herself readily available should any questions or concerns arise.
Following 3 months of rehab, with steady progression through her knee protocol, Emily was finally cleared to run. She started a 15-minute walk/jog on the treadmill and then progressed to track running. Four weeks later, she practiced walking the hurdles, preparing her body to accept the neuromuscular tasks of hurdling sequences. After 2-3 practice sessions, she could drive off the lead leg and successfully land over the hurdle. Shortly after, she could clear the hurdles running and landing with no pain, no swelling, and no fear.
Approximately one month later Emily had a PR for the season by about 3 seconds. She finished 2nd in the region in 300 hurdles and qualified for states.
A story of “True Grit”??? You bet, but also a story of “triumph of collaboration” and the effectiveness of a great team led by a coach, an orthopedist, a medical team, and a supportive family. Together, all worked toward a common goal of returning an injured warrior back to the game.
Indeed, this injury could have been a complete upset in the young lady’s world, a devastating impact on her confidence which could have affected her educational goals. However, when a coach, the medical team and family can communicate and work together, the outcome is much more positive.
Best of luck to you Emily, and to all your Boonsboro High Warriors who have faced obstacles or injuries, but were coached and supported to move onward.
If you have any questions or concerns regarding an inability to perform a sport or even an activity of daily living, contact one of our specialists at MMI. Our scheduling department will advise you of the specialties at the office and align you with a provider who will get you back in your game.