Aquatic Therapy Benefits Pitcher with Broken Femur

Aquatic Therapy Benefits Pitcher with Broken Femur

With the 2014 Major League Baseball spring training season right around the corner, here is one way to provide rehabilitation to an athlete who may have an injured femur. This case study revolves around a 19 year old baseball pitcher from Alderson-Broaddus College in West Virginia.  The athlete broke his femur in a car accident resulting in a comminuted fracture. This injury required a open internal fixation surgery to place a rod in his femur that would remain there the rest of his life.Upper Leg

A comminuted fracture is when the bone has been broken into 3 or more pieces. It usually depends on the amount of force that was required to break the bone. Being that the femur is one of the strongest and largest bones in the body the typical recovery period is usually 4-6 months after surgery.

Sarah Weaver, athletic trainer at Division II Alderson-Broaddus College, handled the recovery in this case. When the athlete was ready to begin rehabilitation following surgery, he performed aquatic therapy in the HydroWorx pool for 2-3 months with Sarah, and then began to exercise outside of the pool.

Throughout the process of rehabbing on the underwater treadmill, the athlete was able to perform movements he wouldn’t be able to do on land. Sarah worked on many skills in the water doing different exercises each day to keep it entertaining. While in the water, they focused on many sport-specific movements such as walking, jogging, squatting, and even regaining his motion for pitching. They would begin with a 5 minute warm-up picking up the speed as time went on. When they first started the aquatic therapy, the athlete began walking at a speed of 1.0 but over time increased to 5.5mph. Some of the exercises that took place during this athlete’s therapy sessions include:

  • Bunny Jumps and Squat Jumps
  • Dot Drill: envisioning a dice with 5 dots,  the athlete jumps in an 2-1-2 sequence forward and backwards
  • Rotation Dot Drill: same 2-1-2 jumps but adding a rotation at the end so the athlete is always jumping forward
  • Shoot Out: pretend to pitch the ball, then jump on the treadmill and run home (practice running from the mound to home, and mound to 1st base)
  • Plyometrics: high knees, outward hip hurdle, inward hip hurdle, butt kicks, shuffle and karaoke

He then finished the therapy session with a 10 min jog to cool down at a speed that he was comfortable with.

Watch the protocol of this study below!

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