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When Beauregard High School offensive lineman Heath Greenlee went down after a hit during the spring game, he remembers hearing a loud noise—even coaches yards away also heard it. “I felt the pain immediately and heard two very loud pops,” Greenlee remembers. “It was the worst pain I have ever felt. When I got up, I tried to take a step, but my knee immediately gave in and I couldn’t walk.”

After X-rays were taken, it was determined that Greenlee suffered tears on his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) and medial collateral ligament (MCL). While ACL injuries are common among football players, Greenlee’s injury was more complicated because of the PCL and MCL tears.

 

“The spring game was on Friday, May 13,” Greenlee remembers, laughing. “I guess I should have known that was bad luck. I started physical therapy after my injury to prepare my body for surgery, and not long after, I underwent an operation to repair my knee. Since then I have been working with my physical therapist, Hayley, at RehabWorks to heal my knee.”

 

Hayley Collier, a physical therapist at RehabWorks-Opelika, has worked with Greenlee since his injury almost 12 weeks ago, and together they have seen wonderful progress. “One of the reasons Heath has been so successful is that he has a lot of drive,” Collier explains. “An athlete’s primary goal is to return to the field, which makes them very motivated. The same work ethic he applies to his sport is present during physical therapy.” Collier explains that despite having a serious knee injury, Greenlee has seen great success in healing so far. While there are still limitations to his progress, he is ahead of schedule on his rehabilitation timeline. “My primary goal as the physical therapist is increasing range of motion and strengthening muscles,” Collier explains. “I think it’s important to develop a program of exercises that are original and not only standard machine weight exercises. A critical part of successful outcomes for patients after surgery is finding things that patients can do at home, too. If I only administer therapy that involves machines, often people don’t have access to that at home and they can’t translate what we do in the office to what they can do on their own time. Our goal is to give patients the tools to succeed, both by working hard while they’re at RehabWorks, and also to succeed on their own.”

“Hayley and Heath are a great team,” Dr. Robert “Bob” McAlindon says. Dr. McAlindon is an orthopaedic surgeon at East Alabama Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine (EAOSM) who performed Greenlee’s knee repairs. “I knew about Heath’s work ethic and great attitude even before his injury,” Dr. McAlindon says. “I’ve watched him on the field for years and he is an integral part of the Beauregard football team. He has a great attitude and that has contributed to his successful recovery so far.”

 

Dr. McAlindon explains that Collier and Greenlee are a great team because they are both focused on the same goal and work together as a team, under Collier’s guidance. “Hayley has perfected the art of knowing how and when to push patients through difficult therapy, and when to let up and let the body heal on its own,” Dr. McAlindon says. “My part (the surgery) took about an hour and a half, but Heath has spent many hours and weeks with Hayley since then. When it comes to successful outcomes after surgery— it is dependent on the team at RehabWorks. Whenever I have difficult or challenging cases, even with patients who live in outlying communities, I often insist that they commute to RehabWorks because I have so much confidence in the team there. RehabWorks places the highest priority on patient care.”

While there are still no guarantees of when Greenlee will see playing time during his senior season, he is still hopeful. “I’ve followed Hayley’s instructions, and whenever she asked me to exercise at home, I’ve tried my best to be diligent about doing that,” Greenlee says. “The physical therapists at RehabWorks push you and encourage you to work hard, which I like. It’s my senior season, so I’m trying to miss the least amount of playing time possible.”

“One of the most important things we want patients to understand is that the amount of success they have in therapy depends largely on what they do independently at home,” Collier explains. “Even if a patient is visiting RehabWorks as much as three times per week, that is still very little compared to the rest of their week. We’re here to help patients get better, but the only way they are truly going to heal is if they are committed to a home program.”

Collier further explains that while a home program is of the upmost importance, patients can be confident knowing that they will receive individualized care while at RehabWorks. “We schedule patients on 30-minute time blocks, as opposed to only 15 minutes,” Collier notes. “Some patients are even oneon-one with a physical therapist for an hour. We also try to maintain a ratio of one physical therapist to one physical therapy assistant for each patient. One of our primary goals as a clinic is to build relationships with patients. If you visit RehabWorks, we want you to know which physical therapist you will be seeing before you arrive, and that physical therapist will follow your progress throughout the course of your time at RehabWorks.”