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Real Patient: Ankle Injury


I injured my ankle a year-and-a-half ago in an airborne operation in Latvia in Europe, which is a country close to Poland. It was a UH-60 jump, which is a helicopter. And there was a mix-up between the aircrew and the ground crew, and he released us too early. We were still over trees. So, I didn’t have enough time to slip away. And I came crashing into the canopy branches. And there was a branch kind of shaped like a “y” that I tried to avoid, and my ankle got caught as I kept going.

There were four other jumpers with me. One sustained a full broken leg. And another a back injury. The doctors told me that it was a severe sprain and that was the diagnosis.

My pain level for that type of injury, for the first few months and even for the year after until I got it treated at Eglin, I would say it would hover from about six to seven just sitting on a bed or a couch. And then when I would walk, it would be about an eight or nine.

So the physical therapy that I underwent ranged from actually physically straining the muscle to cryotherapy to electrical therapy. Just about anything that they thought they could do that would relieve the pain.

Cryotherapy is where they would wrap my ankle in a type of glove, if you will. And they would basically freeze it just to kind of, to stimulate it and to see if it would give a relapse in pain.

Any of the physical therapy that I underwent, nothing seemed to help. It actually seemed to get worse and worse. I had surgery in January of this year. And initially it was just going to be a scope. She was going to look in there to see what was going on. But then ended up deciding to do a Broström, which is an ankle reconstruction. Which allows the tendons, allows the doctor to strengthen the tendons so they’re not to weak.

She cut open my ankle and cut the tendons and then retied them tighter. So whereas a normal ankle would be able to bend all the way, right now I can only bend my ankle due to my tendons. They’re so tight right now. Most of the pain is gone besides typical after surgery pain. But I’m able to complete physical therapy without any type of pain other than just strengthening my muscles.

I have a really good chain of command here that has really taken to heart that I was injured previously before coming to this unit. And they’ve kind of given me the leeway to really just get better.

I couldn’t be happier with my current physical therapy. The difference between the physical therapy I had in Italy and the physical therapy here is just night and day. It’s not so much physical therapy as it is muscle strengthening. I actually get to workout, which is really nice because I haven’t been able to do that in a very long time. And some flexibility drills just to make sure that I’m able to balance myself and walk a typical flight of stairs, which I couldn’t do before.

It really made me understand how I need to take care of my body. Even so far as dietary changes. Or not speeding so much. Or being careful when I do jump. I think that if you wait too long to get seen that it could effect how well you recover. And even, even effect how – if you recover a hundred percent.