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Sports Physical Therapy: Gracie's Story

Sixteen-year-old Gracie Daniel has been dancing since she was just 3 years old. So when the junior at Blue Valley Northwest High School began experiencing back pain last year, she tried to grin and bear it.

“The pain was in my mid-back,” Gracie said. “It bothered me much more when I was sitting in the classroom or at a movie for long periods of time.”

By the end of the day, the pain was nearly unbearable, and Gracie said over-the-counter pain relievers didn’t help. Ironically, the pain wasn’t as severe when she was dancing.

When the pain didn’t improve, Gracie went to her pediatrician for help.

“We wanted to rule out any bone or joint injuries,” said Gracie’s mother, Christiann Daniel. When no clear cause for the problem could be identified, Gracie’s pediatrician recommended a direct referral to Sports Rehabilitation at the Center for Sports Medicine.

There, Gracie saw Noelle Dowma, DPT, BFA, PMA-CPT, a physical therapist and dance medicine specialist.

“Noelle worked with Gracie to strengthen her core and posture,” Christiann said. “She had the expertise to identify the issue immediately and connected well with Gracie as a dancer.”

Gracie participated in physical therapy sessions at the Center for Sports Medicine once a week for six weeks, learning the exercise program Noelle prescribed for her, and practicing it daily on her own.

Months later, Gracie is no longer in pain and she has incorporated the exercise program Noelle created for her into her daily warm-up routine.

“If I start to have any pain, I know I need to work harder on the exercises Noelle taught me,” Gracie said, “and the pain goes away.”

“Noelle was amazing!” Christiann said. “It was such a relief for me as a mother to see that she understood what Gracie was going through and that Gracie felt so comfortable working with her.”

For Gracie, the proof is in her progress. “Physical therapy has helped me better develop the muscles I need to dance.”

In fact, she continues to dance competitively, and even recently performed the physically demanding lead role of Snow White in Miller Marley Youth Ballet's production of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

“I had the opportunity to see her perform,” Dr. Dowma said, “and she looked amazing!”

Call 913-717-4750 to schedule an appointment with Sports Rehabilitation or visit our Sports Physical Therapy page for more information.

(photo courtesy Vivian Nazzaro)