Bloomington / Normal, IL

Working with the community... for a healthier community.

Return to Work, Return to Life


By Alexander Germanis

Although Bloomington-Normal is not a major-league sports destination, our twin cities are known for a solid commitment to athletics. Indeed, places like McLean County Orthopedics (MCO) and its therapy department employ several people with sports backgrounds who focus on sports related injuries with an interest in getting athletes — professional and amateur — to return to play.

But, for the many more in Central Illinois who don’t hit the court or the field, the same technology and innovative techniques put into use to help athletes recuperate is used to help non-athletes return to work or simply return to life.

“We’ve got this framework geared toward returning to play and injured athletes, but it can also be adapted to anyone that needs to return to anything,” explains Director of Rehab and physical therapist at MCO, Bryan Jasker, PT, DPT. “It doesn’t matter if you’re an injured worker, an injured desk employee that looks forward to gardening on the weekend, or that 16-year-old basketball player that’s getting ready for a summer league. Our program is adaptable at all levels.”

Bryan states simply that although we all have similar body parts, the stages of wear and tear on those body parts is what differs. “We all have different ‘wrinkles’ on the inside,” he jokes.

That difference in wear and tear applies as much to the weekend warrior or a worker in shipping and receiving as it does to a professional athlete. Despite our many outright physical similarities, everybody is still different; therefore, a good rehabilitation and physical therapy program needs to be tailored to the individual’s needs.

Those needs might entail simply needing to lose weight. “There’s an unfortunate amount of obesity in our community and in our country, and the risks for surgery can be substantial in someone that is obese,” Bryan says. “So, we’ve developed programming to assist with weight loss and body composition changes from CRA (Cellular Respiration Analytics) programming.”

“We can take you from the beginning of orthopedic care and transition into a rehab setting where we’re really giving you tools to help reduce your weight loss,” he continues, “in order to either be appropriate for surgery or to reduce the stress through the knee, for example. Once you’ve lost that weight, there might be other pieces of that process we need to work on — strength and range of motion and how they tie into function.” Aquatic physical therapy is one way to reduce stress on a joint, whether for weight loss purposes before a surgery or for rehabilitation after a surgery.

“Everything depends on what their personal goals are—what they want to be able to do,” Bryan says. “Perhaps they want to be able to do the stairs at Starved Rock. Or, they want to be able to walk their dog for two miles. Or, they want to be able to cycle or walk to and fish at the lake. It could be anything. This whole process is going to be their ‘story’ and where it ends depends on what their needs are going to be.”

This interdisciplinary care and technology serve to aid an individual whether they need to return to life or return to work. “We see more and more workers through this program and they are coming out on the back end better than before their injury,” Bryan adds.

That comes from using the technology to analyze, understand, and describe movement and movement patterns better, Bryan explains. Controlling one’s movement translates to healing properly and even avoiding injury in the first place.

“A sedentary lifestyle or a previous injury can adversely affect movement patterns or range of motion,” he continues. “With these screening tools, we’re trying to look at the whole movement pattern.”

Whether it’s helping someone get back to work or back to simply living a more active life, Bryan says the goal remains the same: “We want everyone to move better.”

Next month: How physical therapy can be tailored for each individual.

For more information on, or any type of orthopedic problem or injury, physical therapy, return to play contact McLean County Orthopedics, 309-663-6461 or visit them online at Their new office is located at 1111 Trinity Lane in Bloomington.