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Football Player Back to Tackling His Dreams

Thomas Joiner has always been athletic. The 17 year old high schooler spends his free time playing lacrosse and football. Thomas is a linebacker on the Whitefield WolfPack, his school football team, and aspires to play in college.

Thomas had a strong start to his junior year. In September of 2016, during the third game of the season, Thomas’ team was receiving a punt from the opposing team. A returner was nowhere to be found, and Thomas found himself receiving the kick, although not his position. He had a successful 20 yard return before he was forced out of bounds, where he took a late hit. The tackle immediately brought Thomas to the ground.

The high school athletic director, a former athletic trainer, raced to the field. It was evident Thomas’ leg was broken. Thomas was placed on a stretcher and an ambulance was called. Douglas Lundy, MD, the team doctor, met them at the ambulance and was confident that the injury would require surgery. The x-rays at the hospital confirmed a severe fracture to both his tibia and fibula. Thomas underwent surgery the next day. Dr. Lundy placed a 14 inch titanium rod in his tibia to stabilize his leg.

Thomas was out for the season. He missed two weeks of school, then for an additional two weeks could only attend half days. He walked with crutches for two months, but was able to put weight on his leg after two weeks. Although he was in significant pain from his procedure, the student athlete rehabilitated rapidly.

The injury changed the course of Thomas’ life, but not as one might expect. The surgery has given him hope, and with it a renewed drive to excel at the game that he loves. He is completely dedicated to his rehabilitation and is focused on achieving total leg function once more. He currently is going to physical therapy twice a week, and will continue to do so for four months. The greatest challenge in his rehabilitation is still on the horizon: running and sprinting. His recovery may be ongoing, but he is still focused on playing collegiate football in the future. He recently attended his first lacrosse practice and played in two games. He is still having pain, but wants to play so badly that he is powering through it. Dr. Lundy has assured them that his leg is stable enough for activity.

Without surgical intervention, Thomas would still be in a cast and unable to bear weight on his injured leg. This would have delayed his recovery significantly, keeping him from both sporting seasons his junior year. The advanced recovery period will enable him to participate in football camps this summer, where he has the chance to impress college scouts. Thomas still has a chance at fulfilling his dream of a college football career.


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