Luckily, Rafe is determined. He’d watched two friends overcome torn ACLs, and he was ready and willing to put in the physical therapy to get his knee working again. It also helped that Hough and Dr. Victor Wilson, an orthopedics surgeon with Mercy Sports Medicine HealthTracks, were able to get Rafe in the operating room right away.
“When [Rafe] came in to see me, it was pretty evident he had potential to play ball in college,” Hough says, “so we tried to get the ball rolling right away.” Stacey says her son had surgery to repair the torn ACL on Friday, and by Monday, the team at Mercy Sports Medicine HealthTracks had Rafe off crutches.
For months, Rafe traveled 30 minutes to his physical therapy appointments at HealthTracks two to three times a week, and when he wasn’t in PT, he was at the gym cycling or lifting weights. “Because I had just torn the ACL and not the meniscus, it was weight-bearing right after the surgery,” Rafe says. The real hard part was trusting his leg. “It was hard for your mind to trust that leg again,” he says. “It wasn’t my physical ability; it was my mind allowing my body to land on that leg again or make a cut.”
Eventually, that fear faded, and Rafe was able to regain full use of his knee. He actually finished his physical therapy in just five months. That’s about three months ahead of schedule, and he’s now playing college football at Missouri Southern in Joplin. For Wilson and Hough, Rafe’s story shows two successes: the success of the determined athlete and the success of the team of athletic trainers who led Rafe through his physical therapy and who helped the young athlete return to the field.