Meet Two Physical Therapists In Summit’s ASCEND Program

The Summit Orthopedics ASCEND program provides the extra training and conditioning athletes need to regain competitive strength and get back in the game after an injury. Two ASCEND physical therapists explain why the program was developed.

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Physical therapists Kyle Hall and Jenny Blade know firsthand how challenging it is to return to a sport after an ACL injury. Both women suffered ACL injuries while competing in high school sports. Traditional physical therapy helped them to reclaim daily life activities like walking and climbing stairs, but did not provide the conditioning they needed to confidently return to the sports they loved.

“Jenny and I both had an ACL injury in high school,” explains Kyle. “We both tore our ACL playing soccer.” Jenny continued playing soccer after her injury and landed a college soccer scholarship. In college, she tore her ACL again.

Jenny’s experience is not unusual; 45 percent of patients don’t return to their pre-injury level of function after an ACL reconstruction, and they become more vulnerable to further injury. “After you’ve torn one ACL, we know you are more likely to tear the ACL on the opposite leg,” Jenny notes. “That’s exactly what happened to me, and that’s exactly the kind of injury our ASCEND program is designed to prevent.”

Physical therapy is an important component of treatment for ACL tears and other injuries to lower extremities, but insurance typically covers only the rehabilitation patients need to reclaim the activities of daily living. The demands of athletic competition require a higher level of physical performance than three months of rehabilitation can provide.

“We have identified a gap in rehabilitation between discharge from physical therapy and the time in which patients are feeling confident to return to their sport,” says Jenny. “The ASCEND program was developed to fill that gap.”

ASCEND is the product of a collaboration between Summit Orthopedics physical therapists and surgeons, and is designed to provide additional conditioning following the first three months of postoperative rehabilitation. “ASCEND is for athletes, weekend warriors, people like police officers in physically demanding jobs—any patient looking to get back to a high level of performance,” explains Kyle. “This six-week program uses plyometrics, agility, strength training, and conditioning to return these patients safely to their sport or profession.

“The ASCEND program is an awesome addition to the comprehensive sports medicine program we are building within Summit,” Kyle continues. “It bridges the gap between functional rehabilitation and return to sport. I did not have a program like ASCEND when I was injured, and I totally see where I missed out.

“I think the fact that we’ve both been patients really helps us relate to our ASCEND patients,” Kyle smiles. “They love hearing our stories. It builds trust when patients understand that we know what they are feeling. We were athletes ourselves, and we really enjoy the camaraderie that develops when we are working with these patients—they encourage each other as they build skills and confidence. Seeing them return to sports is really exciting.”

 

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