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Eric LeGrand’s Attitude Inspires Us All
October 16, 2010, was a beautiful day for a football game. It was the first time that I visited the New Meadowlands Stadium, and my two girls, Anna (age 7) and Kyra (4) and some close friends were along for the ride. What could be better? We had great seats for a game that pitted my beloved Rutgers Scarlet Knight against the Army team from West Point, which put us close to the action.
We were all having a blast and enjoying the game from our seats in Section 124. During an Army kick-off return in the third quarter, we all heard the loud pop that seemed to echo throughout the entire stadium. Rutgers defensive tackle Eric LeGrand had laid a powerful hit upon Army’s kick returner, Malcolm Brown. Brown was spinning away from a would-be tackler when his body collided with the crown of the helmet of the oncoming LeGrand. After such as devastating hit, the typical “oohs” and “ahs” could be heard throughout the stadium. However, Eric had slumped to the turf, motionless. We all began to worry when Eric did not get up after the hit. Being a physical therapist, I began to consider the possible injuries that Eric could have sustained. Did he simply get the wind knocked out of him, was it a “neck stinger” or did he sustain some sort of serious fracture/spinal cord injury? The longer Eric laid down upon that stadium field, the more medical personnel arrived to attend to him. The more medical personnel attended to him, the more everyone began to worry. Eric was carted off the field and, unfortunately, did not give the “thumbs up” sign that athletes who appear to have been seriously injured on the field of play offer to reassure the fans.
During the week after the injury, the information was scarce regarding Eric’s injury. Finally, everyone’s worst fear was confirmed when the Rutgers media and Eric’s family informed the world that Eric had sustained a spinal cord injury to the C3-C4 level.
Over the last two years, many of us have waited for news regarding Eric’s medical progress. We were all excited to hear that almost a month after the injury, Eric was taken off of the ventilator and able to breathe on his own accord. A few weeks later, Eric had some sensations in his hands and his injury was then classified as a B Incomplete. In March 2011, they removed the tracheotomy tube, which allowed Eric to move home. Last October, Eric began locomotor training. At that time, he had no movement or sensation below his neck. His head leaned against the headrest of his power wheelchair. His shoulders were limp. He was unable to sit up on his own without assistance. Now, a year later, Eric doesn’t use a headrest. He moves his shoulders as he speaks. His sitting tolerance has improved to almost 3 minutes unsupported. He also has sensation in his hands and in his toes. To some these milestones may seem small. But to Eric, and anyone unable to walk, they make huge differences in his quality of life. As a result of his increased movement, it is now easier to dress him as he can assist his caregivers.
Recently he spoke with Keith Sargeant from Mycentraljersey.com and stated, “I’m feeling twitches everywhere (in his body). It’s crazy the way things are progressing. I’m doing rehab five days a week, four hours a day. I’m a case study worldwide about how much I can take. I believe I’m going to walk again. From where I was to where they told me to be, to where I am right now, everything I’ve overcome, I definitely can see it happening.”
Whereas one can look at his recovery from a medical perspective, equally as important is that one looks at the spiritual side to see his progress. One of the things that people admire about Eric, (and there are many things), is the amazing attitude with which Eric has approached his recovery. His mantra of BELIEVE has inspired the Rutgers community, the state of NJ and the entire world. Eric states in his autobiography, BELIEVE- My Faith and the Tackle That Changed My Life, “As crazy as it sounds, what Aunt Cheryl said made sense. What happened at the New Meadowlands Stadium that day was part of God’s plan for me. “
Many of us get to follow Eric on his Facebook or Twitter account to keep up with everything going on in his life. And what a busy, exciting year it has been for him. We have been kept up to date on his daily rehab sessions as they are usually posted with some motivational quote that lifts everyone’s spirits. He has visited with many groups-including professional and non-professional teams to share his story and inspire them all. This summer, despite his injury, Eric was signed to a contract by Greg Schiano and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and placed on the official roster. This made his dream of making an NFL team come to a reality, even if Eric would never see the field during a game.
Eric is spreading his message of positive attitude, spirit, hope and determination across the world. He is working as a motivational speaker, travelling to speak with various groups, teams and people and promoting his new book. Finally, he is working as a radio announcer at Rutgers games this season.
Eric has received numerous prestigious awards including the Jimmy V Award for Perseverance and the Most Courageous Athlete Award from the NJ Writers Association this January. Also, his return to the football field donned the cover of Sports Illustrated’s year-end issue and was voted Moment of the Year.
Eric teaches us to appreciate life and everything about it. He teaches us to appreciate our families, our friends, our community. Finally, he teaches us to BELIEVE, to hope and never give up. He is an inspiration to us all. We don’t know when Eric will walk again, but what is most important is that we all BELIEVE that he will.
Believe: My Faith and the Tackle That Changed My Life
Mike Yorkey 2012
LeGrand still bELieving 2 years after injury
Keith Sargeant, Mycentraljersey.com
Oct 16th, 2012
Readers select Eric LeGrand’s return SI’s moment of the year
By Alexander Wolff, Sports Illustrated
December 20th, 2011
Childhood Obesity: A Growing Problem
A growing health issue in American society is the epidemic of childhood obesity. As stated by Ludwig (2007), 1 in 3 youths and adolescents can be considered overweight or obese as indicated by their body mass index with rates as high as 50% in some specific ethnic groups. With the health issues associated with childhood obesity being both numerous and serious, obesity among today’s youth is also associated with various psychosocial complications that can adversely effect quality of life. With the problems associated with childhood obesity being undeniable, questions arise regarding what are the key factors that are contributing to this diminishing health quality of today’s youth.
Although society has become infinitely more complex technologically in the past 2 decades, the formula for weight gain has remained the same: when energy in is greater than energy expended, weight gain occurs. Despite it’s simplicity, the information in this equation provides valuable clues to why the weight of children continues to increase at an alarming rate. The progression of technology has dramatically improved the speed and ease with which we can access information and communicate with other but has also dramatically decreased the amount of physical activity performed by children. Decreased physical activity reduces calorie expenditure which decreases the amount of calories that can be consumed without gaining weight. Yet, the increased access to high calorie drinks and snacks has resulted in increased caloric intake. Decreased output and increased input has resulted in the gross weight gain seen in this generation of children.
Outlining the existence of the problem is important but how we go about addressing it is even more so. Educating the community regarding the potential health issues associated with childhood obesity is an important first step in increasing awareness regarding the severity of the situation. Of even further importance is the providing of information and strategies for addressing the situation with their children. With simple but diligent steps towards monitoring your diet and increasing daily physical activity, substantial changes in the health of children and future adults can be made. For specific information regarding how to address this problem, you can visit http://www.cdc.gov/healthyyouth/npao/strategies.htm.
Ludwig, D.S. (2007) Childhood Obesity- The Shape of Things to Come. New England Medical Journal, 357 (23), 2325-2327.
Common Ski Injury- ACL tears
Winter is almost upon us and for many people that means heading north to the Poconos or Catskills to hit the slopes. Downhill skiing has become an increasingly popular sport in our area. It is a great aerobic and anaerobic workout for the muscles of the lower extremities. Unfortunately, with most aggressive sporting activities there is a potential for injury. The most common injury for a skier is an injury to their knee. About 30-40% of all skiing injuries occur to the knee joint. The most significant knee injury that occurs is a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL).
The reason that this ligament often tears while on the slopes is usually due to the skier’s binding not releasing the ski from the boot in adequate time while that person is falling. This creates great torque on the knee, so much so that their ligament is not strong enough to withstand the force and ligament tearing takes place.
ACL tears usually require surgery. An ACL reconstruction is a procedure that has become more common in the sports world. The surgery takes a few hours, however, the rehab following the surgery takes months.
There is a program known as Sportsmetrics that was created years ago to prevent these types of injuries from occurring in athletes. Over the years the program has gotten great results. Jersey Physical Therapy has become a Sportsmetrics certified site with multiple individuals that have received their training certification for this program. If you would like more information on this particular program, feel free to contact us.
Common Sports Injury- The Hamstring Strain
The summer is ending…we get in our final beach sessions of the year and then it’s back to school. Many students avoid proper training in the summer months and then are thrust into rigorous practice and game schedules. Because of this sudden change in volume and intensity of exercise, numerous injuries result, some more common then others.
Fall sports such as football and soccer start at the end of August and many high school athletes find that this change in exercise routine results in sprains and strains. Hamstring strains are common in high school athletes and can be very painful, resulting in time lost on the field.
A hamstring strain is an excessive stretch or tearing of muscle fibers and related tissues. Hamstring strains can occur at one of the attachment sites or at any point along the length of the muscle. They are classified as either1st, 2nd, or 3rd degree depending on the severity.
Hamstring injuries are common problems that may result in significant loss of on-field time for many athletes because these injuries tend to heal slowly. Once injury occurs, the patient is at high risk for recurrence without proper rest and rehabilitation. Hamstring strain is a noncontact injury and usually occurs with either acute or insidious onset. Strain injuries frequently are seen in athletes who run, jump, and kick.
Hamstring injuries occur in all athletes- even professionals. Miles Austin of the Dallas Cowboys recently has been in the news for a hamstring strain that may cause him to miss as much as three weeks. Kenny Britt of the Tennessee Titans was also recovering from a right hamstring strain when he twisted on his right leg resulting in a season ending ACL-MCL injury. One must wonder if Britt’s hamstring injury had anything to do with his ACL/MCL injury.
The treatment of a hamstring strain starts with the RICE method of rest, ice, compression and elevation. Evidence has shown that a period of immobilization, (i.e. shutting down), is helpful and the length of immobilization will depend on the severity of the injury. After immobilization, the athlete should work with a PT or athletic trainer to regain strength and flexibility prior to getting back on the field. If the athlete returns too soon, he or she is at risk for re-injury.
The key to these injuries is definitely prevention. Pre-exercise stretching and adequate warm-up are important issues. When starting a season, a graded approach with gradually increasing exercise volume and intensity may also be helpful.
The warmer weather is finally here. This is the time of year when a lot of people want to get outside and start doing more outdoor exercise. The most common outdoor exercise people will try is jogging. Jogging is a great form of cardiovascular exercise. It is a good way to get your heart rate up and break a sweat. There are drawbacks to jogging, like the tension it creates on the joints of the lower body. It can also be quite a strain on the lower extremity muscles if not properly warmed up beforehand. You can easily warm up your body by performing activities such as skipping or light jumping in place. If you do this for a few minutes straight you will start to sweat a bit which indicates that the body is nice and warm. Following this light warm up you should try to do some light stretching of the entire body, especially of the leg muscles since they are primarily worked during jogging. If you are first-time jogger, then start slow. As you get more experience you can start to increase the speed and duration. After running a light cool down should be performed. You can do this by walking for a few minutes and by performing some light stretches. Good luck and enjoy.