Bloomington / Normal, IL

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Writing Your Story in Rehab — Chapter 1: The Road to Recovery


By Alexander Germanis

In the 1980s, a stylized type of book became really popular among young readers. Choose Your Own Adventure, Find Your Fate, and Which Way? books allowed the reader to decide which path to take through the storyline, essentially tailoring their own plot as they went along. So, several people could pick up the same book but read entirely different stories based on their own, individual choices.

That same mentality should apply to how one recovers from an injury or surgery — how to best return to play one’s sport or just return to living one’s life as before. This is the belief held by the professionals at McLean County Orthopedics (MCO) Therapy Department. As no two people are the same, nor are any two injuries identical, the journey through rehabilitation is not always going to take the exact same road.

The Director of Therapy at MCO is Bryan Jasker, PT, DPT. He and the team of therapists believe each road to recovery should be written as a story tailored for the individual.

“In early rehab, we think of facilitating your own body’s mechanisms of repair and recovery and progress early restoration of normal mobility and motion,” Bryan begins. “The story changes over time to where there are more complex movement patterns added — integrating multiple joints and improving how you move for a functional life. So, it is really going from simple and controlled to complex and less predictable. Everyone has a different path and it’s not always the path of least resistance.”

The challenge in rehab is that therapists are seeing people when they have pain, whether with or without an injury. “Pain changes how we move,” Bryan says, “and how people have been trying to manage a new or long-standing back, shoulder, or knee problem is a factor in how rehab progresses. It may be that we spend a lot of time on education and re-learning fundamental movement patterns to address higher-quality motion rather than higher quantity… that comes later.”

Bryan cites an injury to an anterior cruciate ligament in a knee for an example of the process, as it is a common injury among the athletes they see. “We need to work specifically at that joint to recover normal motion and normal strength in the quadriceps and hamstring muscles,” he explains. “But therapists also need to think about how fast those muscles need to work eventually and how joints are being coordinated by muscle patterns, like in a single-leg jump. We organize programming based on big picture questions: what are the demands on that athlete and their sport, and how do I gradually and safely integrate that into the rehabilitation program and a return-to-play framework?”

How the muscles are used can differ per sport, which means the care each athlete requires can be significantly different. Tailoring those needs then is what Bryan refers to as “creating different chapters” within their personal story.

One of the ways to help write those chapters is by utilizing CRA (Cellular Respiratory Analytics) testing for each person (more on that in a future chapter).

“We include the CRA concept early on in order to create guidelines on how to best promote healing,” Bryan says. “CRA helps us [know] how to most effectively establish and prescribe parameters for safe exercise and [know] how to drive their metabolism into readiness for performance and competition.”

Whether helping an athlete return to a sport or helping a retiree heal after a joint replacement surgery, physical therapists need to understand how strength and range of motion progress as a patient heals. Technology like CRA testing then enables them to better guide the patient through the chapters of their story.

“Ultimately, that last chapter in a patient’s story is when they have demonstrated safe, effective, and efficient movement that’s consistent with how they want to live,” Bryan sums up. “Combining our observations of their movement with how they feel and how confident they are, are key factors for achieving goals, whether returning to sports or returning to life.”

For more information on Physical Therapy or any type of orthopedic problem or injury, contact McLean County Orthopedics, 309-663-6461
or visit them online at

Their new office is located at 1111 Trinity Lane in Bloomington.