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From the Basketball Team to the Ortho Team

Craig's Achilles Tear Rehab

If you need a sub for softball, call Craig. A lifelong athlete and former personal trainer, sports have always been a part of Craig’s life. As a student, he played football, basketball, and ran track; he’s partial to golf and skiing now. But really, he doesn’t discern – almost any physical activity will do.

As it is for most athletes, injury is part of his past and a constant possibility for the future. None threatened his everyday more than an Achilles tear he suffered during a summer league basketball game.

An Achilles tear can be severe; the tendon connects your calf muscles to your heel bones and, when torn, can affect your mobility. It’s closely related to running speed and power, which can be especially harmful for an athlete with a competitive drive.

Craig is one such competitor. But as someone with experience, personal and professional, with sports and sports medicine, he was committed to treating it right. At the suggestion of a neighbor, who is a rehab specialist, Craig made an appointment with Anish R. Kadakia, MD, an orthopaedic foot and ankle specialist at Northwestern Memorial Hospital.

Dr. Kadakia presented Craig with the standard surgical and non-surgical options. While surgery would require more work from Craig, it would also be his best shot at full function. The surgery was set for a couple weeks later, after which Craig began a personalized rehab plan, participating in a study led by Dr. Kadakia on how post-op protocol impacts when and to what degree flexibility and functionality return. The research, specifically on the evaluation of operative versus non-operative management of Achilles tendon ruptures using computerized adaptive testing (CAT), was one of a series of studies Dr. Kadakia has led comparing the outcomes of surgical and nonsurgical treatments for foot and ankle injuries.

“For me, being fully functional – physically being able to do whatever I want to do – is very important,” Craig explained. “Because I am active, I have kids that are active, and I want to be able to continue to do stuff with them.”

Dr. Kadakia understood completely. From the moment Craig arrived at the Northwestern Medicine Center for Comprehensive Orthopaedic and Spine Care, the team helped him set realistic benchmarks, taking into account his goals as an athlete and his knowledge as a personal trainer, answering questions whenever he had them.

“He was able to relate to me,” Craig said. “He understood what I wanted to do, post-op, in terms of still being able to be active.”

Within two months, Craig was walking again; six months later, running. A little under a year since the injury, he was back on the basketball court. Craig is an athlete – always has been, always will be. He's determined that sports remain an integral part of his life. And now at Northwestern Medicine, he has a care team on his side.

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Anish R. Kadakia, MD
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