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Your Healthy Family: Return to Sport program does much more than get athletes back in the game

Posted at 4:59 PM, Apr 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-15 18:59:28-04

COLORADO SPRINGS — The Return to Sport program is an innovative program that meshes in with a continuum of care at the Colorado Center for Orthopeadic Excellence in Colorado Springs for people who are looking to improve their performance, avoid injuries or are on the mend after being injured.

In our last story, we introduced you to Hannah Dove, a senior at Lewis Palmer High School who dislocated her knee during basketball season when she was a junior. She described it as the worst injury she has ever suffered.

It was Hannah’s initial physical therapy that introduced her to the Return to Sport program that involves evaluation and testing to determine someone's readiness to return to a specific sport or activity. The screening also identifies movement asymmetries and dysfunctional patterns similar to a sports performance training evaluation to reduce the risk of preventable injuries in the future.

Hannah says before her injury, “I was super weak and I had no idea. I had this idea that I was strong, and that was not the case, which is why I got injured. I was lacking so much strength, specifically in my lower body, the muscles around my knee were not strong, which is what allowed (the dislocation of the joint) to happen. If I had been previously strengthening it probably would not have happened. Now I’m at a decreased risk of injuring it again because I have strengthened all those muscles (around my knee) over the last year or so.”

That type of outcome is the goal of the program that can be applied to a wide range of people, from young athletes, to elite athletes, those who are active and even people who work in physically demanding professions.

Beau Smith is a certified strength and conditioning specialist, and the Director of Sports Performance at the Colorado Center for Orthopedic Excellence. Beau explains, “It’s the fit for life model that is our active population here in Colorado that comes to see us. It’s even people in their 40s, 50s, 60s and 70s. Skiers, runners, college kids who are skateboarders, or snowboarders, runners whatever. The strength and conditioning really mitigates injury across all spectrums of life.”

Beau says on a weekly basis, new high school athletes are introduced to the Return to Sport program, generally because they have suffered an injury, but that doesn’t mean people need to wait for an injury to benefit from the program. “It's designed is as part of our continuum of care so whether an athlete comes to us because they're looking for strength and conditioning, or they came to us because they had an injury and saw a physician and was referred to physical therapy, our ultimate goal is to get them back on the field back in the game doing what they love to do and what they do best.”

This program also produces an environment of personal connection and camaraderie in the process that has other benefits.

Hannah says for her, “It definitely all started with Beau. He was really good and really kind and understanding. It was that relationship at first that helped me want to come in for physical therapy, I wanted to get better. My main goal or motivation was to get back on the court and on the field, but now I also have a newfound respect for physical therapy and strength and conditioning and I'm going to take it with me through the summer.”

Beau says, “It's about being a participant in their life, not just what we're dealing with in the weight room. We get to spend that time with them and generate a relationship. Our physical therapy department is where our sports performance is housed as well. It's intentionally designed as an athletic training room feel, where everyone is working together, the patients, the PT's, the ATC's, and sports performance coaches. We are all, always, bantering and learning from one another.”

For more information on injury prevention and to learn more about the Return to Sport program at the Colorado Center for Orthopaedic Excellence, feel free to visit their website, or give them all call at, 719-623-1050

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