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Personalized Physical Therapy Puts Bryant Back on the Court

Bryant could hear the whistles blowing as he walked by the gymnasium. He had grown up playing football, golfing and swimming, but basketball was his true passion. As he got older, it became more difficult for him to participate in the activities that he loved. Instead of running up and down the court with the basketball team after school, he would head home to soak his aching feet in the bathtub.

"For an 11-year-old boy wanting to be energetic and athletic and not being able to is crushing," says Bryant's mother, LaTéssa.

Bryant has a congenital condition, tarsal coalition, which fuses the bones in the midfoot and limits motion and physical activity. He was unable to run long distances, jump, or walk for more than 20 minutes without severe pain.

In February 2008 Randolph Cohen, MD, pediatric orthopedic surgeon on the medical staff at Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital, Memorial Hospital West and Memorial Hospital Miramar, performed back-to-back surgeries to successfully correct the problem. One year later Bryant was cleared to return to sports, but wasn't quite sure of what to do with his newly gained mobility. Prior to having surgery, it was difficult for Bryant to move his feet up or down and to the left or right. Now that he had a full range of motion, he needed to learn how to use it. Dr. Cohen recommended that Bryant complete a six-week physical therapy program at Memorial Hospital Miramar's Outpatient Rehabilitation Services Department.

Whitney Chambers, the physical therapist, quickly made a connection with Bryant. She graduated from Duke University, and Bryant is an avid University of North Carolina fan. She took that rivalry, along with Bryant's love for basketball, and built a personalized physical therapy program around it.

Reaching New Heights

When Bryant learned he was going to need physical therapy, he was not excited. "I thought to myself, 'Oh man, this is going to be pretty hard and boring,' but Whitney made it fun," says Bryant.

At the beginning of his program, Bryant learned exercises and stretches he was able to do at home, as well as in his physical therapy sessions. The rehabilitation team encouraged his family to be actively involved in every aspect of his therapy. He was always accompanied to every session by either his father or his mother, and his 8-year-old sister, Briana. True to Memorial's patient- and family-centered care philosophy, Whitney took the time to teach Briana all of his exercises and allowed her to help challenge Bryant week after week.

The most memorable part of therapy for Bryant was re-learning how to jump. Whitney marked the height of a regulation college basketball net on the wall in the therapy room. Each week she would place a sticky note reading "Duke Rules" a little higher up on the wall. Bryant would stay and work until he was able to reach his daily goal. On his last day in therapy, Whitney replaced all of the sticky notes on the wall so everyone could see his improvement. Bryant was able to jump up and reach all of the notes.

With the help of Whitney and outpatient rehabilitation services at Memorial Hospital Miramar, Bryant practiced with the junior varsity basketball team all last year. He also attended summer camp where he ran, participated in drills and played basketball for five to six hours a day. Bryant recently won the All-Around Sports Player award for his sixth-grade class.

"I am really grateful for the experience we had at Memorial Hospital Miramar," says LaTéssa. "Whitney made a tremendous difference in Bryant's life and got him to a place where he can soar."


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