In good hands ...
When Maxxwell returned to physical therapy at Village West, Michael knew it was game on for his patient, and he challenged him at every turn.
“Maxxwell is very competitive and so is Michael,” Austen said. “We knew right away that Michael was the perfect physical therapist for Maxxwell. We could tell he was awesome.”
Michael also recognized that if his patient was going to play football at such a competitive level again, they had to work harder. After all, Maxxwell’s goal is a scholarship offer to play for a division I school.
Austen brought Maxxwell to therapy once a week at first, and then twice a week as his knee improved. “I felt like the Village West gym was very state-of-the-art,” Austen said. “I watched from the mezzanine, but I could tell Maxwell was in good hands with Michael.”
Michael started his patient’s therapy using two tools unique to Children’s Mercy Sports Medicine at Village West, a 13,000-square-foot gymnasium with state-of-the-art equipment—the hydrotherapy pool and the Alter G.
“We used the pool as Maxxwell’s graft was healing. We could do a higher level of activity in the pool than on dry land because the water unweights you,” Michael explained.
“It felt good to be able to move around without my brace on in the pool, and I could watch myself on the cameras. It was a fun experience,” Maxwell said.
The same was true for the Alter G treadmill, which uses NASA-developed technology to unweight the patient. This reduces impact on the joints while walking or running during rehab.
And though it wasn’t his favorite part of physical therapy, Michael used blood flow restriction, or BFR, training to help Maxxwell’s rehab quicker.
BFR involves wrapping a restrictive device, similar to a large blood pressure cuff, around a limb during different forms of training and movement. Studies show BFR increases muscle growth when combined with low-load lifting.
“I pushed Maxxwell hard on that BFR, but it was one of the things he needed, and he never complained about it,” Michael said. “He understood it was making him better physically and mentally.”
“Michael explained what BFR was doing for my knee and the research behind it,” Maxxwell said. “It kept me interested, and I was learning about physical therapy at the same time.”
As Maxwell continued his therapy, Michael warned him there might be bumps along the way, but Maxxwell proved him wrong.
“Based on experience, in most cases, patients have a few setbacks here and there, but really, Maxxwell didn’t. He’s driven and a true athlete. He worked his butt off and he just kept getting better. It was impressive,” Michael said.
To gauge his progress, Maxxwell performed Biodex testing to determine where he stood after 12 weeks of therapy, and then at the conclusion, to check if he was ready to return to play.
Biodex is a multi-joint isokinetic machine that provides physicians and their patients valuable information about strength deficits and muscle imbalances that may predispose a particular joint to further injury before surgery and after rehabilitation.
“At Maxwell’s 12-week Biodex, he had numbers near ready for discharge, as far as his strength, and it was difficult to find any deficits,” Michael said.
“His final test was as close to a perfect Biodex as I have seen in a long, long time. I remember being like, ‘Wow! For Maxxwell, our goal is not only function and safety, but helping him return to playing at an elite level, and I feel like we did that.”
“There were definitely some moments where I was like, ‘Gee, my knee doesn’t feel good. Is it going to get better?” Maxxwell admitted. “But I trusted Michael and things have gone back to normal now. Physically, I feel like I’m 100%.”