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Getting Back to the Dance Floor - A Patient’s Story

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"Dance is my life," says Michelle. "It's my favorite form of expression and something I truly think will be a huge part of my future."

When Michelle sustained injuries to her knee and then ankle, worry set in. With an upcoming recital and competitions, Michelle kept her goals in front of her and worked to overcome, recover, and ultimately return to dance.

After Michelle sustained an injury to her left knee, she came to McFarland Clinic Physical Therapy (PT) for a free injury assessment.

"An injury assessment is a complimentary service provided by McFarland Physical Therapy of any recent injury," says Barb Palas, MPT, SCS, ATC, McFarland Clinic Physical Therapy. "We can perform a muscle and joint injury evaluation, assess strength and flexibility, and educate the patient on exercises and preventative care to help with recovery."

After the assessment it was determined that Michelle would start PT to regain full-knee motion and strength, allowing her to gradually return to dance. While working with Barb, Michelle was put in a knee brace and continued with physical therapy before returning to dance with full motion and strength.

dancer in a pose with leg outThe following year, Michelle re-injured her left knee. Surgery was scheduled for July with Bryan Warme, MD at McFarland Clinic Orthopedic Surgery, which would allow her to participate in spring dance competitions. She continued wearing a brace and rehabilitating her knee with physical therapy.

The Setback

While awaiting knee surgery, Michelle had another setback. During practice she landed awkwardly and sprained her right ankle. After evaluation her treatment plan was to resume conservative care with physical therapy.

"Michelle was placed in a brace to support her ankle, and she continued with physical therapy to improve her range of motion, strength, gait, and hopefully a gradual return to dance," says Barb.

Michelle was able to regain motion and strength but struggled with jumps and leaps. Michelle was unable to progress her dance activities to the point of competing, recitals, and upcoming auditions. It was determined that surgery was needed on her right ankle. This surgery would happen before her already-scheduled knee surgery.

"I was heartbroken when I first heard about the surgeries I needed for my knee and ankle," says Michelle.

The Comeback

dancer doing Blazepod exercises for reaction timeAfter ankle surgery, Michelle resumed physical therapy with an aggressive goal of being able to perform for Nationals and the New York City Dance Alliance. And she did just that within three weeks of her surgery.

"After the surgery, during my recovery, I didn't think I would be ready in time,” says Michelle. “By meeting with Barb up to four times a week, sometimes more than once a day, I was able to go to Nationals and win a National title."

After Nationals Michelle had her knee surgery as scheduled. Working closely with Barb, Michelle was able to recover from her knee and ankle surgeries, regain strength, and conquer her jumps and leaps for her upcoming performances.

"I feel stronger every day and am so glad to have been given the opportunity again to show my passion to the world."

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