Getting Back in the Game: Johns Hopkins Sports Therapy Center Offers Comprehensive, Individualized Therapy Plans Designed Around Each Child’s Sport 

Posted on Dec 01, 2017

Kate at the Johns Hopkins All Children’s Sports Therapy Center in Tampa.

It wasn’t a reckless shank or even the impressive roll shot for which she is known. In fact, no one is sure when or how Kate injured her shoulder playing volleyball. All they know is she was in pain. Not the usual I-want-to-play-so-I’ll-ignore-it pain, but the Forget-it-kid-I’m-taking-you-to-the-doctor kind.

Because high school and club volleyball are important to Kate.

Very important.

In fact, the plan is that volleyball is Kate’s ticket to Belmont Abbey College in North Carolina next year.

But only if her body works.

That’s where the Johns Hopkins All Children’s Sports Therapy Center in Tampa comes in. Offering orthopedic sports-based physical therapy designed to specifically meet the needs of children and adolescents with acute and chronic musculoskeletal conditions and traumatic injuries, it was the right choice for Kate.

Kate’s mom, Diana, first took the 17-year-old senior to their pediatrician after the shoulder pain kept getting worse, and they were referred to orthopedics and eventually to Drew Warnick, M.D., an orthopedic surgeon at Johns Hopkins All Children’s where they were told she needed surgery and some intensive physical therapy designed around her chosen sport to get her back in playing shape.

“Kate had shoulder surgery in August for a labral tear,” explains her physical therapist, Lindsey Watson, CSCS. “It’s a pretty common injury for an overhead athlete. In this case, Kate is an active volleyball player who is playing extensively for her high school and club teams.”

Minimally Invasive Surgery, Individualized Physical Therapy

“They put four little holes in her shoulder in August,” Diana, Kate’s mom, recalls. “It was minimally invasive, which was great for Kate.” And for Diana—who had to do almost everything for the teenager while she had one arm in a sling, including helping her shower and dress. Minimally invasive surgery offers quite a few benefits beyond faster healing, including less scarring, less scar tissue and the ability to regain more use of the arm with proper therapy.

Post-surgery, Warnick put Kate on a 21-week therapy protocol that would get her back in the game by early 2018, plenty of time before college starts next fall.

“The therapy program has been great,” Kate says. “Lindsey works me hard but we have that common goal of getting me out there, and playing to my fullest ability again, so it’s good.”

“What really makes the Johns Hopkins All Children’s Sports Therapy Center stand out for kids like Kate,
is that our specialized pediatric orthopedic and sports physical therapists offer complete therapy programs that address the injured area as well as focusing on the whole athlete, including all aspects of athletic performance,” Watson explains. “We have specialized training in orthopedic conditions specific to children and adolescents and design customized treatment plans for each patient according to their goals. Our goal for Kate is for her to return to volleyball successfully and to have a long healthy college volleyball career. We zero in on all sport-specific motions that will get her back playing her sport safely while minimizing her risk for re-injury.”

And in Kate’s case, it’s a win: Though still in therapy, she just signed a letter of intent at Belmont Abbey with scholarship.

“My coach just wants to make sure I heal in time,” Kate explains. With her twice-a-week sessions customized around her school schedule, that won’t be a problem. “Most of our athletes do make a full recovery and don’t have any other issues as long as they maintain their rehab,” Watson explains. She points out the convenience of the Sports Therapy Center, which is easily accessible near Raymond James Stadium, with the physicians, therapists and surgeons all right next door so they can check on their patients during their session.

With therapy finishing up in the next few months. Kate has been able to return to volleyball practice to spend time with the team. She can’t play yet, but her arm is out of the sling, she has much better movement. She has even gone back to styling her own hair.

And neither Diana nor Kate are willing to admit who is happier about that.

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