A New Type of Balance Board Aimed at Peak Performance

By Brian Rog for ATI Physical Therapy

We mean it when we say “our team leads the way in pioneering the future of the industry”. Such is the case with Chad Franche PT, DPT, United States Air Force (USAF) veteran, and founder of the TherRex Balance Board. What initially started as an idea rooted from a practicum as a graduate student has now evolved into a game-changing product that is revolutionizing the health and fitness industry.

As someone who grew up wanting to make a difference in the lives of others, Chad felt the health and fitness industry needed a balance board that could truly facilitate all levels of motion without sacrifice. While in rotation at an outpatient clinic, Chad discovered that all the current balance boards took on a hemispherical shape on the bottom.

But while in a standing position, current boards give you more distance to shift your weight side to side (frontal plane) than front to back motion (sagittal plane). With this in mind Chad knew he could introduce a product with a base that would mimic this level of movement, but allow for full ankle range of motion without having to dismount from the board.

Fast forward a few years and this very idea was brought to life through the TherRex Board, which resembles a football shape to mimic the movement addressed above. The football shape also replicates the movement attained by a BAPS board (BioMechanical Ankle Platform System) in that it provides inward rotation of the ankle throughout flexion, but through a greater range of motion, which allows for the ankle to be exercised in the position sprains occur.

Chad originally intended for the board to be a pediatric balance board with an interactive gaming component, but after seeing the potential the football shape could provide, it was clear he needed to take this product to the next level.

“I knew with the football shaped base, if the board were to be used in the plank or seated positions there would be two different intensities at which exercises could be performed,” said Chad. “The board would just have to be turned 90 degrees to make it easier or harder (the shorter arc of the football shape is less stable and higher difficulty than the longer more stable arc).

I added a pair of handles at the ends of each arc and a flat edge lateral to the handles that projects underneath the board and stops it so a person’s fingers won’t get pinched against the ground. The flat edge also provides a stable surface for the board to be mounted and dismounted. Other balance boards with a round platform wobble against the ground and make it difficult to mount/dismount.”

With the product officially hitting the market a few months back, we met up with Chad to hear how things are going, see what’s next for him and the brand and get his perspective on this new adventure.

Who is the TherRex balance board intended for?

Our customers are primarily outpatient PT clinics, but we are also targeting gyms (Formula Fitness Club in Chicago as our most recent), schools, and direct to consumer. Ultimately, the TherRex board benefits anyone with a fitness goal or those rehabbing from an injury. Its greatest benefits are in joint stability, core strengthening, and of course balance. I actually use it each night as part of my daily workout routine.

For more information on TherRex Balance Board, please visit the official TherRex Balance Board website.



By AlloSource: Doing More with Life


Jake’s life was never without sport: as one season ended, another began. Soccer became basketball, basketball became track, and he enjoyed the athletic challenge of each sport. However, constant knee pain threatened to put Jake on the bench.

Jake’s knee pain started three years ago and doctors suggested he try stretching and physical therapy to remedy the problem, but the pain persisted. When running or playing soccer, his knee would sometimes give out and it became clear to Jake and his parents that more medical attention was necessary.

“I didn’t feel that I was able to compete to my full potential,” said Jake. “I had an obvious limp when running, but I didn’t know what was causing it.”

After an MRI, Jake’s doctor diagnosed him with Osteochondritis dissecans, a joint condition in which cartilage and bone in the knee become loose. Though he was in the midst of a basketball season and looking forward to track, Jake’s diagnosis forced him to stop playing.

Jake and his family sought a second opinion after his diagnosis and they met Dr. John Polousky of HealthONE Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children in Denver. After weighing his options, Jake and his doctor moved forward with surgery. During the procedure, Dr. Polousky used bone and cartilage allografts to replace the damaged tissue and realigned the weight-bearing line in Jake’s leg.

Jake understood prior to his surgery that a deceased tissue donor made the bone and cartilage allografts possible.

“My immediate reaction was sadness. Today I am very appreciative that the person chose to be a donor and wanted to help someone beyond their own life.”

Part of Jake’s recovery included the use of  an external fixator with metal pins anchored into entry points in his leg. “After the surgery I noticed all of the attention I received from strangers. I don’t think they had ever seen an external fixator, and it did look strange,” he said.

Jake recently had the external fixator removed and has started his exercise regimen again. He rides his bike 12 miles per day and does not have any pain.

Receiving donated tissue affirmed Jake’s belief in donation. He registered as a donor when he got his driver’s license and hopes that others will consider registering too.

“I have felt the impact of what it really means to receive something from someone you don’t know. I would be interested in knowing about my donor’s life because
they are a part of me now. He or she made it possible for me to be healthy, so that I can do the things I like to do.”

Coming Back From: Knee Meniscus Surgery

By Dev K. Mishra, M.D., President, Sideline Sports Doc, Clinical Assistant Professor of Orthopedic Surgery, Stanford University

Key Points:

  • Recovery is highly variable, but generally speaking most young athletes can return to sprinting, cutting, and jumping sports at about 6 weeks after partial meniscus removal surgery
  • Generally speaking, most young athletes will return to sprinting, cutting, and jumping sports at about 4 months after meniscus repair with stitches
  • Beware about claims to return fully to sports at 2 weeks after surgery (or less…) – this is very rare
  • Success rates are very high with properly followed rehab

College football fans recently witnessed the strange sideline incident where Ohio State quarterback JT Barrett reportedly injured a knee when colliding pregame with a photographer. But from my standpoint as an orthopedic surgeon the most incredible part was that Barrett had knee surgery on the Sunday after that game and then played in the Big 10 championship game against Wisconsin only 6 days after surgery. I have no details about exactly what was done in Barrett’s knee, but media reports indicate it was surgery to trim a torn meniscus. Furthermore, the stats from the Wisconsin game show that not only was he effective as a passer but he also rushed for 60 yards! This is uncharted territory.

Most orthopedic surgeons would honestly tell you it would be incredibly unusual for a player that relies on speed, quickness, and the ability to turn on a dime to be fully ready that quickly.

So how long should it realistically take?

The meniscus is a shock absorber in the knee, a horseshoe shaped structure situated between the two major knee joint bones. There are two menisci in each knee, and either meniscus can be torn in patterns generally like the ones shown in the photo (from OrthoInfo, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons).

If surgery is done for a torn meniscus it will most often be a partial removal, which is somewhat like trimming a hangnail from your toe. It’s a relatively quick procedure (usually about 15-20 minutes) and weightbearing is allowed immediately after surgery. The second possible procedure is called a meniscus “repair” where stitches are placed in the meniscus to sew it back together. After a meniscus repair there is usually a period of partial weightbearing on crutches that lasts several weeks.

The type of surgery performed has a major influence on the speed of the rehabilitation. With the commonly performed partial meniscus removal there is an early emphasis on minimizing swelling and regaining motion. Comfortable walking generally takes about a week or two. The highly variable part is return of power, speed, and the ability to cut hard or pivot. This is the part that takes the longest time and will usually take 2-4 weeks. So if we add the weeks up it will be a minimum of 3 weeks and perhaps up to 6 weeks for full return to sprinting, cutting, and jumping.

With meniscus repair with stitches there could be 4-6 weeks on crutches, followed by regaining full walking ability, and finally getting the knee sport-ready with strength, power, and speed. There is some overlap in the phases but when all the time is added up you’re looking at 3 to 4 months until the player is ready for unrestricted sprinting, cutting, and jumping.

In the discussion above I’ve focused on return to sprinting, cutting, and jumping. So the timeline for return to sports will depend on whether you need to do those things in your sport. If you are a cyclist or swimmer you should expect a faster return to your sport. Distance runners will generally return to full training faster than sprinters but likely longer than cyclists.

Young athletes should expect a high chance of successful return with proper rehab and time after surgery. But it’s only a very rare few who can come back as fast as JT Barrett.




Erica was 14 years old when she began experiencing knee pain, which the family believed to be a result of a recurring sports-related injury. After three weeks of pain with no improvement, Erica’s mother, Angie, decided to have her visit the Rocky Mountain Youth Sports Medicine Institute for an exam. Angie was convinced that Erica had hyperextended her knee and would probably require a couple weeks of physical therapy.

“As she sat on the exam table, she asked me the innocent question, ‘What if they say I need to have surgery’ and we both laughed because it couldn’t possibly be that bad,” said Angie.

After a thorough examination including xrays, the doctor diagnosed Erica with Osteochondritis Dessicans Lesion of the knee, or OCD, which is a softening of the bone due to a blunt force injury or repetitive motion. Pain from OCD typically presents itself significantly after the original injury occurs. Erica’s doctor explained that she had likely been living with the condition for years and that the bone had progressively softened until it caused pain to catch her attention.

“The diagnosis made perfect sense, since Erica plays the back row on her club volleyball team and is frequently hitting the floor to dive after balls,” said Angie. Erica’s doctor scheduled a surgery to scrape out the damaged bone and then replace it with bone marrow from another part of Erica’s leg. Angie was hopeful for a successful procedure and 100 percent recovery, so her daughter could rejoin her volleyball squad and regain her quality of life.

The surgery began with a scope to assess the damage and found that Erica’s cartilage was shredded due to the softened bone that wasn’t able to support it. At this point, Erica’s surgical team determined she actually needed a bone/cartilage graft to replace the damaged tissue in her knee. Thanks to a generous tissue donation from an anonymous donor, Erica was the lucky recipient of a bone and cartilage transplant.

“I was relieved that Erica was able to get such a well-matched graft that would help her heal and be back to full activity in nine months, but I also felt incredibly heartsick for the parents and family of the 15-yearold who wasn’t going to get the chance to run, jump and live life like Erica would on her new knee,” said Angie.

Angie is thankful for all of the support Erica received from family, friends and her medical team throughout her treatment. Erica’s recovery was successful and she is currently practicing to join her high school’s golf team this spring.

“Erica continues to build strength in her leg, but still laughs at how little her calf is compared to the other leg. Her classmates still freak out a little when they see the big scar running across her knee, but she sees it as another distinction that makes her Erica,” said Angie.

Angie never expected her healthy, athletic 14-year-old daughter to need a tissue donation, but when the unexpected happened, both Angie and Erica were whole-heartedly appreciative for the generous gift provided to them by a young donor. And they send their warmest wishes and love to the donor family.

“We pray for the family who lost their 15- year-old and hope that God has given them comfort and strength. And in my prayers I thank them for the perfectly-fitting gift that they gave Erica,” said Angie.