Going For Gold After Hip Replacement

Dana Potts Runner

Running isn’t just a hobby for Burr Ridge, IL resident Dana Potts—it’s an Olympic sport. Participating in the 100m, 200m, and 400m races in the U.S. Men’s Illinois Senior Olympics, Potts set a record in the 400m event and earned eight gold medals between 2014-2016.

With a track record like that, and goals for the future, Potts didn’t have any room in his training schedule for a painful setback.

Shortly after he set a new state record in the 400m dash, Potts felt a new sensation while visiting his daughter on her college campus.


“Emily and I were shooting baskets. I felt pain in my hip when I jogged over to retrieve the ball and I thought, ‘Oh, I’m just tired.’ But it didn’t get better.”


Potts assumed his pain was due to fatigue or over-training, but he wanted to be sure there wasn’t something more.

He went to see close friend and Midwest Orthopedics at Rush sports medicine specialist, Dr. Charles Bush Joseph, who examined him carefully, studied his MRI, and diagnosed Potts with advanced osteoarthritis in the hip.  He explained that a hip replacement was his best option for pain relief and recommended Potts see Dr. Richard Berger, who performs minimally invasive hip replacement surgery. Dr. Berger’s innovative outpatient procedure allows patients to leave the hospital the same day of surgery. Potts chose to move forward with this unique anterior approach that would not only minimize pain, but also provide a fast recovery.

During the exam, Dr. Berger diagnosed Potts with hip dysplasia, a condition in which the ‘ball and socket’ of the hip joint don’t fit together properly. This can gradually wear away the cartilage in the hip joint, often resulting in osteoarthritis.

Dr. Berger concurred that the best treatment for Potts was a hip replacement.

Concerned about his athletic future, Potts asked if he’d be able to sprint again. Dr. Berger looked him in the eye and replied, “If you were a sprinter before the pain set in, then you can be a sprinter once I get rid of the pain for you.” This was just the answer Potts was looking for and he began to feel confident about someday running his way to first place again.

Potts appreciated Dr. Berger’s minimally invasive, outpatient approach to surgery. He was intrigued by the fact that Dr. Berger’s patients begin walking the same day of surgery.  Dr. Berger explained that his technique eliminates the need to cut through muscles, tendons, or ligaments, allowing patients to get back to physical activities at an exponential rate.

dana potts chicago.jpg

Potts’ hip replacement was a success and, as promised, he was walking and on the road to recovery the same day.  Just two days after surgery, Potts went back to work. After 10 days, he was walking on the treadmill. After one month, he played a little basketball. At six months, he was back on the track training.

With his new hip and the green light from Dr. Berger, Potts went on to win three gold medals (100m, 200m, and 400m) in the 2016 Illinois Senior Olympic Games. Potts didn’t have a doubt in his mind that he was going to lose.

“I felt very confident in my chances for winning,” he added, giving credit to Dr. Berger’s surgery, his dedication to physical therapy and his rigorous training exercises.

Today, Potts has retired from competing in the Senior Olympics, but continues to run and maintain his physical capabilities, ceaselessly testing to see how far he can go with his pain free hip.


To schedule an appointment with Dr. Richard Berger, call Dr. Berger’s New Patient Liaison, Rachel Schiller, directly at 312-432-2557

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Featured Body Part: Hip

Featured Body Part: Hip

By  Angela Bender and Cori Cameron for ATI Physical Therapy

The hip is one of the strongest, most secure, and stable joints in the body, but it is not indestructible. While the hip bone may look like one bone, it is made up of three bones that are completely fused – ilium, pubis, and ischium. Whether we’re walking, running, bending or sitting, the hip plays a critical role. When injured, it can cause every day tasks to be painful and difficult. As we get older, the risk of hip injury increase due to many different factors. Knowing more about common causes and conditions and ways prevent hip injuries will give us a better chance to avoid some of the risks of injury.

Common Causes
The hip bone has a cushion of cartilage that helps to prevent friction when the hip bone moves. Even though the hip bone is durable, arthritis, injuries and other problems can all cause hip pain.

  • Overuse Injuries – With age and use, the cartilage can wear down and the muscles and tendons can become damaged.
  • Sudden (Acute) Injuries  – During a fall or other injury, the hip bone can be fractured.
  • Pinched Nerves – Tightness in the outer hip muscles can place pressure on the nerves.

Common Conditions
Hip pain can be caused by any one of these common conditions:

  • Osteoarthritis – The most common disease affecting the hip is osteoarthritis. The cartilage in the hip joint gradually wears away, becoming frayed and rough, and the protective joint space between the bones decreases resulting in bone rubbing on bone.
  • Other Forms of Inflammatory Arthritis – Rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, systemic lupus erythematosus, psoriatic arthritis are all also common types of arthritis that cause hip pain.
  • Bone Fracture – A hip fracture is a break in the upper quarter of the femur (thigh) bone. Hip fractures most commonly occur from a fall or from a direct blow to the side of the hip.
  • Developmental Conditions – Usually present from birth, developmental conditions occur when there is an abnormality either in the shape of the head of the femur, the shape of the acetabulum or the supporting structures around them (e.g. dysplasia of the hip).

Injury Prevention
Paula Savino, PT, MPT, and Clinical Case Manager, gives us some tips to help prevent and rehabilitate hip injuries:

  • Stay Flexible – Make sure to stretch your quads, hamstrings, hip adductor and hip flexor muscles daily. Hold those stretches for at least 30 seconds and repeat 2-3 times.
  • Keep Your Legs Strong – Focus on all four planes of the hip. The hip can move in multiple directions so strengthen your hip abductors, adductors, flexors and extensors. Try some squats, lunges and lateral walks with resistance.
  • Avoid Overtraining – Make sure you vary your exercises and don’t always do the same thing. If you have pain after exercising, stop the activity, rest, ice and elevate your leg.

Rehabilitation
If you have pain in your hip that isn’t going away, rehabilitation is a great step to take to improve your functionality. During hip rehabilitation:

  • Be Prepared to Re-Educate Your Muscles – Focus is on strong gluteal, hip abductor and hip adductor muscles. This will help ensure good hip alignment with daily activities.
  • Be Balanced – Work on dynamic balance exercises to improve your proprioception and ability to stay upright.
  • Always Think Proper Posture – Maintaining your center of gravity over your feet will reduce undue stress and strain on your hip.
  • Be Strong through Your Core – Your core provides for better overall stability of the hip by providing a foundation for proper movement patterns.
  • Wear Proper Footwear – It is important to provide a good foundation for the hip.

When weighing your treatment options for hip pain and injuries, consider physical therapy. Physical therapy offers a wide variety of treatment options including strengthening, stretching, and sustainable home exercise programs. Stop in or call any ATI location for a complimentary injury screen or to learn more about how physical therapy can help you overcome your hip pain. Click here to schedule a complimentary injury screen.

Get hip with ATI!

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How To Avoid A Sports Hernia

In athletes, sports hernias are one of the most common causes of pain in the hip and groin area. Each year, sports hernias affect around 5% of adult athletes, which amounts to thousands of students, professionals, and amateurs alike. It’s most common in those who play high-contact sports such as hockey, football, soccer, and the like. The condition is painful, and without treatment, it can put players on the bench for months. Luckily, there are steps you can take to avoid getting sidelined by a sports hernia.

About Sports Hernias

Many older adults are well aware what a hernia is. A hernia occurs when part of an organ protrudes through the wall of your abdominal cavity, causing pain in the gut and stomach region. Sports hernias, also known as athletic pubalgia, Gilmore’s groin, and slap shot gut, aren’t true hernias, though the symptoms are similar. The condition causes pain in the hip and groin area as a result of torn muscles in the abdomen and pelvis. If left untreated, these tears can lead to an inguinal hernia.

Avoiding Sports Hernias

The primary cause of the tearing that leads to sports hernias is repetitive twisting and turning motions in the pelvic area. As such, the best way to reduce your risk of developing a hernia is to be careful when twisting around the waist. While you can’t fully avoid placing a strain on your pelvic area, you can help to reduce the stress on your muscles and organs. Here are some of the best ways to prevent a sports hernia for athletes at any level:

  • Use proper technique when lifting, especially with free weights.
  • Work your way down to a healthy weight.
  • Eat plenty of high-fiber fruits and vegetables to avoid constipation.
  • Drink plenty of fluids, both to avoid constipation and to keep muscles functioning properly.
  • Don’t force yourself to wait to go to the bathroom.
  • Exercise on a regular basis, including core strengthening exercises that work the abdominal muscles.

When it comes to sports hernias, the best path is prevention. Athletes who play a high-contact sport should work to avoid excessive strain around the pelvic area. If you are experiencing pain in your groin area and suspect it may be due to a sports hernia, you should see your doctor. There are plenty of non-invasive treatments that can help to speed up the healing process as well as an operation with a 90% success rate for more serious cases.

By Jess Walter

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Ice Hockey Injury Awareness and Prevention

By Brian Rog and Katie Christopherson, ATC for ATI Physical Therapy

Ice Hockey Injury Awareness and Prevention from ATI Physical Therapy

Behind any sport’s glory lies a complex algorithm so delicate that even the slightest miscalculation in training or performance can cut a practice, game or season short. High-intensity, year-long sports like ice hockey, adhere to a very complex set of rules due to the on-ice demands and endless fitness requisites. In keeping up with these standards, as a player, coach or parent, it’s important to be educated on gear safety, strength & conditioning, skating technique and return to play rehab protocols.

With the help of ATI Physical Therapy athletic trainer and seasoned hockey player, Katie Christopherson, we’ll take an inside look into common hockey injuries, injury prevention tips and stretching recommendations to help you relish the game and all its glory. Adding to this, our friends at ProStockHockey supplied us with an insightful upper body injury infographic , which underscores the importance of choosing the right equipment.

What are the more common hockey injuries treated in the clinics?

When it comes to hockey injuries, regardless of age and skill level, we commonly see injuries to the head, shoulders, hips, knees, feet, and ankles. Injuries linked to the body parts mentioned above can be assessed and rehabbed in a physical therapy clinic. Head injuries are an exception to this as most rehab clinics are not staffed with head injury specialists. However, at select ATI locations, we have specialists credentialed to treat head injuries and their accompanying hindrances.

Within the sport, hockey injuries are traditionally classified as either chronic (overuse) or acute (more traumatic). So when you hear of a player suffering ‘an acute concussion’, you’ll know the level of injury the athlete is dealing with. Looking deeper into these common hockey injuries, here’s a breakdown of the top-4 and their contributors:

Shoulder injuries

It is common to find rotator cuff and glenohumeral (ball and socket joint) injuries being treated in clinics.  The rotator cuff is a group of stabilizing muscles that are frequently used with stick handling in hockey.  Shoulder dislocations and AC joint sprains are common due to checking in hockey as well and require physical therapy to correct.

Hip injuries

In the hip, you will find a lot of groin muscle strains due to a misstep in skating or getting caught up in the boards or another person’s leg or stick.

Knee injuries

In the knee, our clinics more commonly see MCL sprains and/or meniscus tears, which result from twisting of the knee or direct impact to the outer side of the knee.

Head injuries

Given the full-contact nature of hockey, it’s no surprise we see a steady stream of head injuries such as concussions. Head injuries can have very serious consequences and require immediate medical attention, so don’t ignore the warning signs.

How can a hockey player lessen the risk of injury? 

To help lessen the risk of injury, a player must undergo proper training, wear sized-appropriate protective gear, and follow proper rehab protocols when returning from an injury.  Before tackling this checklist, it’s important to know that roles will vary according to a player’s position on the ice, whether it be a forward, defensemen or goalie.  These roles vary by position, so following position-designated strengthening, skating technique, gear, and return-to-play rehab protocols will help you better adapt to role-specific scenarios.

For instance, if you are a forward, the position does not demand as much backwards skating as a defensive position, however both positions utilize forward-skating crossover techniques, so in some cases you’ll borrow tactics from other positions.

Irrespective of position assignment, it’s strongly suggested that as players move through the ranks they should work towards a versatile role, meaning they can assume the duties of a defenseman (or forward), if needed. Doing this helps a player better adapt to varying on-ice challenges, both physically and mentally. The anomaly to this versatility rule is, of course, the goalie, since this position will never assume the role of a d-man or forward. On the flip side, you won’t see a skater step into the crease, unless of course you are Kris Russel of the Edmonton Oilers who holds the record for most blocked shots in one game at 15.

Since we are talking goalies, which is by far the most unique and laborious position on the ice, let’s take a look at what we know and have seen as far as injuries and conditioning strategy. Given the dynamic duties of a goaltender, we most commonly treat hip injuries resulting from squatting positions, quick side-to-side transitions and knee-to-ice movements that necessitate major hip rotations.

Similar to a forward or defenseman, a goalie must also understand the mechanics of the position and the levels of mobility needed to meet the grueling demands of the position. What makes this position even more unique is that on top of recognizing one’s own mechanics and strategies, a netminder must also learn the mechanics and strategies of a skater to better prepare their physical responses.

Once you’ve identified your role on the ice and importance of training and rehabilitation guidelines for each position, it comes time to establish a more thorough, role-specific training and injury-prevention program. For a forward or defenseman, this program must combine a focus on strength, speed, flexibility and endurance. With a goalie, their program should be similar to their teammates, however, he/she must follow a program that has an increased focus on flexibility, strength and endurance.

Avoiding injuries with the proper gear

The main thing to remember when outfitting yourself (or someone else), is to make sure the gear is appropriate for the position (i.e., skater vs. goalie) and that it fits properly. With this, you must also consider proper stick lengths and shape as well as the way a hockey skate fits and the skate’s blade radius. And yes, even the sharpness of the hockey skate blade can affect the player due to on-ice variables such as one’s position and softness/hardness of the ice.  Making yourself and others aware of these things and taking appropriate action can help to lessen the severity and occurrence of on-ice injuries. For helpful tips on properly outfitting your equipment, check out this hockey equipment fitting guide from the experts at Dick’s Sporting Goods.

Corrective stretches that can help to minimize injury risk 

Research has proven that including dynamic (mobility stretches) and static (stationary stretches) stretches will not only improve your endurance and balance, but will also lessen the risk of injury. While the aforementioned benefits are well known across the athletic community, the timing of the stretches (warm up/post-game) are commonly up for debate. ATI’s physical therapy experts suggest focusing on dynamic stretches before hitting the ice and static once finished, which include:

Dynamic stretches before hitting the ice

Dynamic hockey warm-ups, which are great for getting the heart rate up and enhancing range of motion and power, can be done on land (without gear) or can be done once you hit the ice.  Some beneficial flat-land warm ups include exercises such as high knees, hip swings, arm swings, butt kicks, karaoke, side steps and ankle hops. For dynamic on-ice exercises, consider hip circles, arm circles, leg swings, Cossack squats and trunk rotators.  The warm-up should take around 15 to 20 minutes all together and does not need to include static stretches as this will not help elevate your heart rate, which is an essential ingredient to priming the muscles for activity.

Static stretches after a game or practice 

Hockey players of all levels incorporate some form of static stretching after a game or practice without gear. The post-activity stretch is key in preventing injuries as it helps with maintaining flexibility and lowering recovery time. Examples of static stretches include, reaching for toes (hamstring), butterfly (groin), hollywood or secretary stretch (low back), flamingo (quads), lunge stretch (hip flexors), piriformis (hip/glutes), and IT band stretch (side of leg/hip).  These are all important in supporting flexibility and helping stay injury-free.

Preventing an overuse injury

There are multiple steps a skater can take to help prevent an overuse injury.  First off, as is the case in all sports, proper training is the cornerstone for achieving peak performance and fitness levels. In doing this, avoid going from minimal levels of activity to a high level as your chances of injury or muscle strain are significantly increased.

When training, also pay close attention to your form when doing cross-overs, skating backwards, and working on shooting technique. Over time, improper form places unnecessary loads on the muscles, causing them to break down. As a result, recovery times become lengthy and rehab programs exhausting.

This brings us to our last point on the role warm-ups and post-activity stretching play in shielding your muscles from injury. Including some form of dynamic warm-up before activity as well as static stretches afterward can be very beneficial for muscle sustainability, wellness and recovery. It’s been stated that well-structured warm-ups and stretches will get your heart rate and muscles ready to handle a heavy load while post-activity stretching allows your heart rate to decrease, causing your body to idle down into a resting state.

Managing hockey injuries, aches and pains

ATI experts strongly encourage athletes to take care of any minor aches and pains before they compound and get worse.  This can be as simple as heating for 20 minutes before activity and icing for 20 minutes after activity when the athlete feels soreness in one particular area.  If the pain persists, it might be a good idea to call your physician or visit your nearest ATI physical therapy clinic. In fact, at ATI, we offer complimentary injury screenings, so stop in and see what we can do for you.

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