Learning to walk again

Tucked away in a corner office of the Circuit Training Room at Tempe’s Student Recreation Complex sit three medical exam tables, an assortment of multi-colored rubber Thera-Bands and exercise balls of various sizes.

The setup is home to a Physiotherapy Associates office operated five days a week by a small staff of two trained physical therapy professionals and a student trainer on clinical rotation.

Students recovering from bone and ligament injuries as well as post-operative ligament surgeries can be found here multiple days a week going through physical therapy and recovery sessions.

During the first weekend of the fall semester, physics freshman Joy Nachman broke her left elbow while riding her bicycle around her parents’ neighborhood, which she was hoping to bring back to her Tempe home to use as her primary mode of transportation, she said.

“I put my arm out to stop myself and broke my elbow,” Nachman said. “I didn’t realize at the time that it was broken, it just sort of went numb and I could feel myself going into shock.”

After looking at the X-rays of Nachman’s broken elbow, the doctor advised that she would need to undergo surgery.

“Once they told me I was going to need surgery, that kind of freaked me out a bit,” she said. “The surgery was the most intimidating part.”

Nachman said her biggest struggle so far in her recovery was not being able to dance and perform in a few recitals this semester. The goal she set with Physiotherapy’s Nichalas Lane, who holds a doctorate of physical therapy, was to get all of her range of motion back in her arm so that could go back to dancing the way she used to.

Landscape architecture senior Tyler Mussro said his goal was to be able to participate in the University’s Intramural Softball League in the spring semester.

“I’ve done sports my entire life so it’s always been a big part,” Mussro said. “Baseball was my main sport in high school.”

Mussro unknowingly tore his ACL playing flag football for a competitive league in Glendale at the end Spring Break in March. He said while making a cut to go down the field during a play he heard a pop in his knee and fell to the ground.

“I got up and it was fine," he said. "I was able to walk and stuff, but I mean I could definitely feel something wrong in there."

Two months later, while doing yard work, Mussro heard a car crash behind his property fence. While attempting to help the vehicles’ occupants, he hopped over the fence but heard another pop in his knee. However, that time he was not able to walk afterward at all.

Mussro would also undergo surgery in the middle of the summer after his doctor confirmed that he tore his ACL and meniscus.

“When I went to walk, there was just nothing there,” Mussro recalls. “It would buckle but nothing ever really hurt. It felt like a lot of pressure because it swelled up immediately.”

Since September the two recovering students have gone through struggles, frustrations and a lot pain to repair their bodies to the way it was before their accidents.

Mussro said he fells that his knee is at a 75 percent right now and would like it to be at 80 percent around the New Year.

Despite Nachman’s earlier expectations of being done with therapy much sooner, she said she hopes to be done by the end of the current semester.

“But I’ll keep going until I’m happy with whatever I can do on my own or until my parents say ‘no, we’re not paying for this anymore,’” Nachman said with a laugh.


Reach the reporter at sraymund@asu.edu or follow him on Twitter @ShawnFVRaymundo

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