Green Bay (WFRV) After an athlete finishes physical therapy following an injury, like a torn ACL, they could still be months away from being ready to play. One local hospital offers a program that helps athletes get back into playing shape faster.
Aurora BayCare Sports Medicine’s ACL bridge program can give injured athletes the boost they need to get back in the game.
“It’s been tough, a long journey,” said Dontrell Johnson, Professional Football Player.
Dontrell Johnson started his professional football career in 2013. After stints with the Jacksonville Jaguars and Detroit Lions, he landed a spot on the Green Bay Blizzard’s roster. Football has been his dream since he was a kid.
“I just like to run and everything. But as a kid I saw my brother playing and I thought maybe I should try it,” said Dontrell.
But during a Blizzard game last June, “I was trying to make the tackle and I was trying to stop at the same time my knee just gave out,” said Dontrell.
A torn ACL and meniscus sidelined Dontrell. Surgery was required, “They repaired it, they took my hamstring and they repaired it,” said Dontrell.
Then came physical therapy, “If you do not have the proper rehab for it you aren’t going to be 100 percent of where you need to be,” explained Staci Gruenke, licensed physical therapist, Aurora BayCare Medical Center.
After therapy was finished, Dontrelle’s knee wasn’t in playing condition, “Most insurance’s will only cover the first 12-16 weeks for these athletes and they are not, by any means, ready to play for sport,” explained Staci.
So Dontrell joined the ACL Bridge Program at Aurora BayCare Sports Medicine, “I feel like I still got a little bit of work to do like the hamstring, strength and everything,” explained Dontrell.
Athletes continue to work on their recovery with a licensed athletic trainer- like Staci Gruenke, “It bridges the gap between physical therapy and return to play,” explained Staci, “We actually have the science behind it, these protocols have proven to work.”
The training is individualized to each athlete, “It’s very intense, it involves agility, speed coordination, power, strength, so there is a lot to entail in the ACL Bridge Program,” said Staci.
Dontrelle believes it’s helping him get back on the gridiron, “It helped me build my strength, my confidence. Stacy she pushed me like non-stop every day,” said Dontrell.
And Dontrell has big plans for his future football career, “Playing football in Australia its a new league that just came up,” said Dontrell.
The ACL Bridge Program is for hip, knee and ankle, and for any type of athlete- high school, college, professional or anyone with an active lifestyle.