Tendon Loving Care

Softball warrior feels head over heels after rehab for torn Achilles

“My ankle feels strong, now. I’m able to run and play softball and be competitive when I play.” – Bob

At age 55, Bob Daniels retired as a quality engineer for the US Postal Service in Maryland. Two years later, in 2007, he relocated to the Sunshine State to escape the frigid winters. Before long, he became involved in the local sports scene in Florida.

“When I first moved to Ormond Beach, I umpired for a gentleman who talked me into taking the job as sports coordinator for the city’s youth athletic program,” recounts Bob, now 72. “I’m 12 years into that job at this point. I work evenings at the city’s sports complex as well.

“My job includes managing the fields, making sure they’re set up for the youth and adult programs we offer. I also teach sports skills — baseball, flag football and softball — to kids in the evenings. When I first started working there, I coached the sports teams my granddaughter played on. She’s in college now, so I don’t coach anymore.

“I’m also commissioner for the senior softball league in Flagler County, and I play competitive softball on a team called The Old Timers. I have a lot of fun.”

Bob’s fun was interrupted last July when he was injured playing softball.

“I hit a ball that went deep to the fence,” he remembers. “As I ran across first base and turned the corner to head for second, I collided with the first baseman. During the collision I felt something pop, and then the pain came.

“I have a very high pain tolerance, but this hurt bad enough for me to stop playing. As I limped off the field, the pain was a 10 on a scale of one to 10. After I sat for a while, the pain subsided some, but it was still about an eight.”

As it turns out, Bob tore his left Achilles tendon. The tendon, which connects the calf muscles to the heel bone, is named after the warrior hero in Greek mythology who was killed by a poisonous arrow to his heel.

After undergoing surgery to repair the tendon in August, Bob was scheduled to begin physical therapy in September. Based on previous experiences, he chose to do his rehab at Barr & Associates Physical Therapy in Ormond Beach, working with Jacob Barr, PT, DPT, MTC, CEAS, CHT.

“I first met Dr. Barr on the softball field at Ormond Beach Sports Complex with the adult coed league several years ago,” Bob reveals. “I got to talking with him, and he told me he was a physical therapist.

“When I underwent shoulder surgery years ago, I turned to Dr. Barr to rehab my shoulder. Then four years ago, I had my right knee replaced, and he rehabbed my knee. Dr. Barr did a great job with those conditions because he helped get me back on the softball field, so I turned to him again.

“My goals this time, though, were a bit different. In addition to getting back on the softball field, I wanted to be able to walk an hour and a half with my wife, which is something we were doing before I got injured. That was my primary goal.”

Therapy Protocol

To help Bob attain those goals, Dr. Barr followed a rehab protocol provided by Bob’s surgeon. The first order of business was to increase flexibility in Bob’s ankle.

“When Bob arrived, he was wearing a protective boot on his left foot and couldn’t perform any exercises while standing without the boot,” Dr. Barr informs. “We began with some range of motion exercises, soft tissue mobilization and passive range of motion techniques. We then progressed gradually through the protocol to performing strength exercises. Eventually, we worked on balance and walking without the boot.

“To assist with walking and gait training, we had Bob walk on our AlterG® Anti-Gravity Treadmill™. The AlterG uses differential air pressure to ‘unweight’ the patient. We can take off as much as 80 percent of the patient’s body weight in as little as 1 percent increments. It’s like being in a pool but without the water.

“Because the AlterG is not full weightbearing, Bob was able to walk on the treadmill and recover a normal gait at an earlier stage in the rehab process.”

During his tenure at Barr & Associates, Bob also worked with Jonathan Wright, a physical therapy assistant.

“Jonathan has a baseball background, so he and Bob had a mutual interest in baseball and softball,” Dr. Barr reports. “Jonathan helped Bob regain the skills to return to playing competitive softball, which was one of his main goals.”

Bob received four months of therapy, completing on January 24.

“That’s typical for someone with that type of injury who desires to return to a high level of activity, such as playing sports,” Dr. Barr maintains. “If Bob didn’t want to do that, if he just wanted to be able to perform his everyday activities, the rehab would likely have taken less time.”

“Very Worthwhile Trip”

Bob continues to faithfully perform the exercises he learned at Barr & Associates to further strengthen his repaired Achilles tendon. He’s delighted with the results of his therapy, which eliminated his pain and allowed for a return to his active lifestyle.

“My rehab went really well,” Bob enthuses. “My ankle feels strong now. I’m able to run and play softball and be competitive when I play. At this point, my ankle is about 95 percent healed. Both my surgeon and Dr. Barr told me it will probably take a year from my surgery for it to be 100 percent. That’s the main reason I continue with the exercises.”

Bob is pleased with the physical therapist that treated him and his staff as well.

“Dr. Barr is great,” he raves. “He’s very knowledgeable. And he knows me, so he knows my goals. I know other physical therapists; there are two or three others that play in the league. But I prefer going to Dr. Barr over anybody else.

“All the folks at Barr & Associates Physical Therapy are really good people. They taught me what to do when I leave the clinic. We spent an hour three days a week. The rest of the time I practiced the things they taught me.

“It’s been a long but very worthwhile trip. I reached the walking goal first and then I reached the softball goal. Anytime I talk to someone that’s injured, needs rehab or just wants to talk to a physical therapist, I always recommend Dr. Barr and Barr & Associates Physical Therapy.”

© FHCN article by Patti DiPanfilo. Photo by Jordan Pysz.

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