Our Patient of the Month (and beloved owner of Montclair Bread Company), Rachel, is an experienced runner and cyclist who suffered a traumatic pelvic fracture during a training ride on her bike. More than just being an athlete though, she is a fighter.
Her surgeon told her she would likely not be able to run for at least 6 months after the extensive surgery she needed to stabilize the hip joint. However, Rachel progressed in PT much quicker than expected. Despite having a hard time at first, Rachel was able to complete the Fueled by Doughnuts 5k less than 4 months after her injury. She pushed herself hard to improve her mobility, strength and stability. When it came time for Rachel to graduate from Iron PT, she was stronger than even before her injury. She was back to running her pre-injury pace for 3 miles with stronger hips and core than ever before. In fact, on her last day Rachel landed a 20 inch box jump with perfect form - A task she feared and routinely joked about never wanting to attempt.
Rachel was one of the most dedicated, hard working patients I've ever treated. I'm tremendously proud of her and look forward to seeing her continue to crush her goals as she becomes an even better athlete. Rachel truly exemplified our #getbetterbebetter mentality. Congrats to her!
~ Dr. Michael Castania, DPT
IN HER WORDS...
1) List three words to describe you: Stubborn, Resilient (we agree!), Independent
2) What brought you into physical therapy? In 2014, I started running for the first time in my life, and I almost gave it up when I was crippled by shin splints. My friend, Gina, recommended I see Dr. Mayes. After my first appointment at Iron PT I saw immediate results. Over the years, I came back with more running-related injuries...tibial stress fracture from over use, peroneal tendon strain, plantar fasciitis and more. Every time, Dr. Mayes was there to help get my feet back on the ground. After my tendon strain that just wouldn't heal, I sat on the table sobbing because I couldn't run. Dr. Mayes told me I wasn't allowed to cry about it, I had to do something about it. I had to be good at one other thing. So the next day, I signed up for swim lessons. Shortly after that, I got back on a bike for the first time in 20 years and went on to complete my first triathlon, placing 3rd in my age group!
Then last summer, at the end of a 40-mile bike ride during my training for IRONMAN Lake Placid (a 70.3 mile triathlon), someone opened their car door into the street I was cruising down. The roads were damp, I swerved to avoid a collision, my wheels slipped out from under me, and my hip slammed against the pavement. Once the ambulance delivered me to the emergency room and the x-rays showed a fracture, I sent a message to Dr. Mayes.
3) How would you describe physical therapy to people who don't know what it is? Physical Therapy is a safe zone where you can be pushed beyond what you think you're capable of doing in a supportive environment. Your therapist is your number one cheerleader throughout your recovery, no matter how big or small the injury.
4) What exercise or technique helped you the most? I have a love/hate relationship with the Graston tools. When I first came in for PT, I had very little mobility because the muscles surrounding my injury were so tight. I couldn't even sit on the floor. The Graston tools helped me get back to more comfortable positions.
5) What would you say to someone who is living in pain and putting off physical therapy? What helped me the most was to keep moving. Moving hurt (a lot), but the more I moved, the less it hurt. Without the support of Dr. C and Dr. Mayes, I would have never taken the first step forward, literally. I couldn't walk when I started PT.
As soon as my stitches were removed two weeks after my accident, I asked the doctor if I could start PT. He said I could but he wasn't sure if I would be able to do anything more than I could do at home. I made an appointment at Iron PT before I left his office. It gave me a reason to get out of bed each day. In the beginning, my PT appointment was the only reason I left the house because I could barely make it down the stairs and the car ride was brutally painful. Then it got easier and easier.
6) What activities are you most excited about getting back to? Running!!! Although it was a cycling accident, running is still my one true love and the number one focus of my recovery.
7) What did you enjoy most about your PT experience? The wins and they were plentiful. My first step, my first unassisted step, my first jump...then I did things I couldn't do before my accident...a forward lunge with my knee all the way to the ground, a 20" box jump!!
This week I went back to the surgeon for my last follow up. I had to get a new set of x-rays when I arrived. The technician asked how long ago my surgery took place. I told her six months ago. She asked how I was able to walk without using a cane at only six months out. She said “You must have done a lot of PT!” I didn't tell her I raced a 5K the day before.
Then the surgeon sat me down and told me “This doesn't happen. People don't do this.” He explained that I was a full 6-12 months ahead of where all the science and all his experience say I should be.