Returning to an Active Life: Becky’s Story

Becky Cassilly said there wasn’t any athletic glamour to her soccer injury last year. Although, she admittedly wishes there was.

“I did not even have the ball,” said the Tidewater Physical Therapy patient turned employee playing in an over 30 soccer league in Richmond, reliving the good ole days with friends. “Changed directions (heard the proverbial pop) and blew out the knee.”

She knew it was bad. Didn’t want to admit it, even when her husband could see the swelling despite her insistence she could spend a weekend icing it and all would be OK. In reality, she had torn her medial meniscus, ruptured her ACL and tore her MCL – also called the Terrible Triad in the physical therapy world.

As a tri-athlete, marathon runner, and soccer player, Becky never had a serious injury.

“Somehow I missed that I was getting older,” she said, begrudgingly admittedly you have to understand new limitations with new age.

Becky was immediately referred to knee surgeon, Dr. William Nordt, who landed the next blow to Becky’s already bruised ego. She was too old for ACL surgery.

While later in their long recovery partnership, she was able to get him agreeable to calling her middle aged rather than old, she was definitely deflated.

Dr. Nordt recommended physical therapy instead of surgery and, within a few days, Becky had an evaluation and was on a course that would take her to Jason Bridges, Clinical Director of the Tidewater Physical Therapy’s Glen Allen office, three times a week, hours at a time, for months.

Dr. Nordt recommended Jason personally, over other closer physical therapy clinics, because of his experience with these types of injuries.

“I really trusted in Dr. Nordt and then in Jason,” Becky said. “This was not convenient on any level and then to drive so far to see Jason, so often, really added to the frustration I was feeling. But in the end, it was worth it. I just needed to trust in my ability to heal and the experience of my doctor and physical therapist.”

“I was very naïve about the extent of the injury and I just really did not understand how difficult the process would be,” Becky said. “It never occurred to me that it would take me so long to heal, that I would not bounce back.”

At one point, Becky said, a 16-year-old girl came in with a similar injury and finished her therapy much faster than Becky.

Three months into therapy, and not progressing as quickly as she hoped, Becky and Jason returned to Dr. Nordt requesting a reevaluation to consider her for surgery.

It was April, spring was coming, and outdoor activities with her kids were just around the corner.

Not to mention another half-marathon that she’d set her sites on that next November, with training to start in August, three months after surgery.

“He laughed at me,” Becky said, remembering that first conversation of her goals with Jason. “But I was determined and we got there. I finished the half I with a personal record and I have not looked back.”

Today, Becky is still running. She’s also helping other runners and active men and women return to their active lives working in Tidewater Physical Therapy’s Glen Allen office.

“PT is hard work, and you have to wrap your head around the fact that you are going to be uncomfortable,” Becky said honestly of a patient’s physical therapy experience. “But with a great physical therapist and confidence, you can meet your goals.”

Becky tells patients they need to empower themselves. Don’t be afraid.

No matter what discomfort or frustration any patient feels during therapy, Becky said, they are making progress and “crossing the finish line again makes it all worth it.”