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Return to Play with Confidence

Return to Play

It happens frequently. Athletes sustain an injury, receive the appropriate medical care, undergo physical therapy and then exhaust their medical benefits before they fully recover.

To help athletes fill this critical gap in their recovery, Memorial Hermann is offering a new, one-of-a-kind Return to Play program where injured athletes reap the benefits of their highly trained and integrated team of sports rehabilitation specialists. Amazingly, the cost is just 250 per month for the basic program.

Designed for athletes in the later phases of rehabilitation, this affordable, cash-based program continually measures performance outcomes so athletes at all playing levels can return to their sport with confidence and greatly reduce their chance of re-injury.

Preventing Another Injury

Research shows that athletes who undergo surgery after an injury have a 6 times greater risk of re-injury.

In one major study, 30 percent of young athletes who had undergone anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstruction sustained a second ACL injury within 24 months of returning to sports activity. Within the study group, females were four times more likely than males to sustain a re-injury to the same or opposite knee.

Study after study recommends athletes’ undergo rehabilitation under the guidance of sports medicine professionals, such as those in the Return to Play program, who understand how to focus on long-term durability in sports performance, as well as injury prevention. Otherwise, athletes are likely to re-injure themselves, potentially leading to more surgery, permanent damage or reduced sports performance.

Integrated Team Care

Wayne Fraleigh is COO of Ambulatory Services for the Memorial Hermann Health System and oversees orthopedic services. He estimates that up to 60 percent of insurance policies cover rehabilitation based on a pre-defined dollar amount or number of visits. Benefits are usually exhausted two to three months following their surgery.

“This is when athletes have had to fend for themselves,” says Fraleigh. “They either continue their physical therapy exercises on their own, they seek help from their school trainer who is responsible for hundreds of other athletes, or they go to sports performance or fitness centers that don’t have training to treat injured athletes.”

What distinguishes the Return to Play program is the integrated team of sports medicine professionals who analyze the extent of an athlete’s injury and devise a personalized rehabilitation program to improve the odds of them returning to their chosen sport with full mobility and performance level. This stands in stark contrast to sports performance centers that focus solely on helping healthy athletes increase their performance level.

Advanced Rehabilitation

The Return to Play program focuses on the later stages of recovery that encompass functional symmetry, restoring the injured area to full strength and mobility. This includes workouts emphasizing running, agility, speed, power and strength development. From there, recuperating athletes return to their drills, then practices (including participation with teammates while under supervision) and, finally, competition.

“Three months after surgery is generally when athletes start more progressive exercises. This is the phase our Return to Play program targets.” said Fraleigh. “Knowing when and how to advance rehabilitation is critical to return an athlete to sport. Our integrated sports medicine team administers specific battery of tests and activities to determine when an athlete is ready to progress to the next phase”.

Athletes who have undergone surgical repair for injuries to the ACL, rotator cuff, glenoid labrum, ulnar collateral ligament and Achilles tendon are among those who can benefit the most from the Return to Play program.

The Process

Athletes are referred to the Return to Play program by surgeons, physicians, physical therapists, athletic trainers, strength and conditioning specialists and school coaches with long-term injuries. Athletes may also visit our walk-in injury clinics at designated Memorial Hermann sites to determine if they are a candidate for the program. Athletes must be signed off by their physician to be part of the Return to Play program.

Initially, care will be available at the Memorial Hermann IRONMAN Sports Medicine Institute at Memorial City and the Memorial Hermann Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation clinic at Baseball USA. Care is coordinated by a medically trained athletic trainer (AT) specializing in sports recovery who administers specific tests to athletes to monitor their progress and determine if they are ready to progress to the next level without risking future injury.

The AT also serves as the primary communicator on the progress of each athlete to keep parents, coaches, school athletic trainers and the athlete’s physician informed. If additional sports rehabilitation specialists are needed, the AT has access to the Institute’s deep bench of sports medicine professionals.

Whether you’re a high school or college athlete trying to get back onto the field or eyeing a scholarship, a competitive marathon runner, a team player or a weekend warrior, the Memorial Hermann Return to Play program focuses on returning you to your sport with confidence. To learn more, please contact us.