Starter for Northwood Timberwolves and WellSport Patient
“When I finished physical therapy and Dr. Pinney cleared me to start pre-season camp August, I felt the best I had felt in my football career.”
Athlete-Focused Care for Injury Returns Northwood Starter to Play Feeling Great
After Northwood kicker Alex Faust tore a thigh muscle during spring football his junior year, getting back in action on the field became his number one goal.
With two more years of eligibility, and a strong desire to stay active beyond graduation, Alex was glad to find WellSport. The evaluation, treatment and rehabilitation he received put him back on the field in the fall feeling great.
“I really don’t know how it happened,” Alex said. “The pain was in a quadriceps muscle on the top of my right thigh. I’m a kicker, and that is my kicking quad, absolutely essential to doing what I do. I played through, but it kept getting worse. I physically could not do what I needed to do.”
Weeks passed without improvement. The swelling remained. Alex couldn’t jump or run without pain. Sometimes just sitting would be tough. He began to worry that he might not start the season
“There’s nothing worse than being hurt,” he said. “I would have been a returning starter that couldn’t play, which is a huge deal to the team.”
Alex’s coach saw that he needed more help, and agreed to support whatever he wanted to do. On his dad’s advice, Alex decided to work with WellSport, the region’s first medically directed sports medicine program.
Located on the campus of MidMichigan Medical Center–Midland, WellSport provides state-of-the-art care to athletes of all ages and ability levels. Medical Director J.T Pinney, M.D., works with a team of other experts including orthopaedic surgeons, physical and occupational therapists, athletic trainers and other specialists.
A Quick Start on Healing
“I was able to see Dr. Pinney without delay, and we got a quick start,” Alex said. At their first visit, Dr. Pinney used ultrasound to discover a muscle tear, which was confirmed with an MRI the next day. They had a follow-up visit just a few days later.
During six weeks of physical therapy, three or four days a week, at the Medical Center’s Fitness Center, Alex made progress. “We started kind of slow,” he said, “strengthening my leg to a certain point, then working on flexibility.”
When Alex joined in the team’s rigorous summer training, the coach and players knew what was happening and kept track of what he was able to do as healing progressed.
“My thigh was wrapped and I wore a compression sleeve when I ran,” he said. “I wouldn’t say I babied my leg: As an athlete you can’t baby anything. But I’d say I was smart. I was aware of it.” Alex also gave up wakeboarding and some other activities for the summer.
With the WellSport office located at Campus Ridge I next to the Fitness Center, it was easy for Dr. Pinney to see Alex’s progress and consult with his therapist at every session. In July, the doctor and patient had one last follow-up visit.
“When I finished physical therapy and Dr. Pinney cleared me to start pre-season camp in August, I felt the best I had felt in my football career,” Alex said. “I can truly say that my quad was the healthiest part of my body during the season.”
A Positive Environment
Alex, who “hates hospitals,” found it easy to be at WellSport and the Fitness Center at Campus Ridge I. “It was one of the most positive environments I’ve been a part of. I loved going there,” he said. “They’re personable and they get into your situation. I just can’t say enough about how well they do their job.”
Alex said the experience with Dr. Pinney and WellSport taught him how to handle an injury better. “I plan to stay athletic and one day do triathlons,” he said. “Now I know if something feels wrong, something probably is wrong. I understand that I shouldn’t wait around or tough it through. I need to act.”
As a first responding physician to a sports injury or need, WellSport Medical Director J.T Pinney, M.D., coordinates evaluation, treatment and rehabilitation to help patients return to sport effectively. Dr. Pinney sees patients at MidMichigan Medical Offices–Campus Ridge I, 4401 Campus Ridge Drive. To make an appointment, call (989) 837-9350.