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Blake's story: The rehabilitation of a jumper
Images courtesy of Blake Harris
On March 22, 2017, I faced a life-changing event while simply doing what I enjoy the most. I was at a routine track meet held at Katy Taylor High School. As a freshman at Strake Jesuit College Preparatory, I was blessed to place either first or second in the triple jump event at every track meet of the season. When it was my turn to go, my first phase was excellent. But after my second phase, something went wrong. I flew sideways – my landing was off. I wasn't initially aware of just how injured I was. I tried walking out of the pit, but my right leg completely collapsed under me. From that point on, I couldn’t even walk. I knew I had broken my leg.
Chad Collier, my coach, rode with me in the ambulance as I was immediately rushed to the hospital. Following the incident, I sat and cried in my hospital room with my family and coaches nearby. My track season was definitely over, but I told myself this wasn’t the end of my story. That night, Dr. Scott McKay and his team operated swiftly on my leg at Texas Children’s West Campus. This surgery was the first step in literally getting me back on my feet and onto the track. Even though I started physical therapy elsewhere promptly after my injury, I still didn’t feel like my leg was at 100 percent at the end of the day. I was fortunate enough to get an appointment at Texas Children’s Sports Physical Therapy in the Medical Center, where I soon found out I was nowhere near ready to compete again at full strength.
When I got to Texas Children’s for my sports physical therapy evaluation, we learned I had a 30 percent strength deficit in my surgical leg compared to the other. I made some great improvements in my walking ability in the four months that had passed after my surgery, but I definitely wasn’t strong enough to run or jump on my own.
Dr. Joseph Chorley and Dr. Nick Purcell worked together on a plan to get me back to my full ability before the upcoming track season, understanding my desire to triple jump in college. I never could’ve imagined all the different types of strategies they used to help me build strength while healing. I worked hard at my strengthening exercises and quickly progressed to a running program. Once I was able to run without compensation, we started a jumping program and I was taught how to absorb force through my repaired leg. After a few months of targeted strengthening and progressive jump training, I scored 100 percent on my jump tests and had symmetrical strength. The hard work paid off!
This past track season, I was blessed to earn titles as a 2018 19-6A district champion, 19-6A/20-6A area runner-up, regional qualifier and New Balance Nationals Emerging Elite qualifier in my sophomore season. The year behind me was filled with new opportunities that seemed impossible and out of reach a year prior. I never would’ve gotten to where I am now if it weren’t for the grace of God, my family, coaches, teammates and Texas Children’s. I can’t thank my care team enough for what they’ve done for me and for everything they will continue to do for other injured athletes.
If you’re interested in learning more about Texas Children’s Sports Medicine, click here.