In September, Kristen Stroda needed crutches to attend classes.
Last week the freshman at Abilene High School was jogging some.
Her secret: water.
“I love running,” Stroda said.
So much so that a nagging knee injury didn’t stop her from competing in track this past spring for Abilene Middle School.
When the cross country season started in August, Stroda was excited.
“It’s my stress reliever,” she said of running. “It is the way I cope with things. Whenever I run, it feels like I am free and nothing is holding me back. Running is my favorite thing to do.”
However, a right knee injury ended her cross country season early.
Her recovery has been working with the HydroWorx 350 aquatic therapy pool at Memorial Health System.
She was diagnosed with patellar tendinitis, which is an injury to the tendon connecting the kneecap to the shinbone.
“My right leg is very weak. We are just trying to get it to go back into motion,” Stroda said.
The injury first occurred about 15 months ago at her first cross country meet for Abilene Middle School.
“I had some problems since then in my patella. I had extra fluids around it and it would always get swollen and bruised. It hurt a lot,” she said.
But that didn’t stop her from continuing to run.
She went to Justin Clark, athletic trainer for Abilene schools from Memorial Health System Rehabilitation and Sports Medicine.
“He gave me some exercises, which I did. It still hurt but I didn’t say anything because I still wanted to run,” Stroda said.
During her mile run at an Abilene Middle School track and field meet last spring, she felt a sharper pain.
“I kept running,” she said. “After I was done I just iced it. I didn’t do any of my other events that day.”
She went back to Clark, who adjusted her training.
“This past cross country season was going great, but I still had some pain in my leg and knee,” she said.
She got a sleeve on the knee to keep it compressed.
“But it would still swell up every day, even just from walking,” Stroda said.
At her first high school cross country event, the Abilene Invitational on Sept. 5, Stroda placed fifth.
Nine days later she reinjured her knee.
“When I ran at Wamego, I had a really sharp pain in my leg. I didn’t stop running,” Stroda said.
When she is determined to so do something, she follows through.
“I went there to run and that is what I wanted to do — run,” she said.
After the race, she was unable to walk on her leg and her running season was over.
“They put me crutches so I could walk around a bit during school,” she said.
An MRI showed the injury.
Stroda limped into the rehabilitation office at the Abilene hospital.
She started treatments with the HyroWorx 350 aquatic therapy pool as soon as it arrived on Oct. 14.
“It makes it feel like I have less compression on my knee so it doesn’t feel like it is as compacted onto the ground. I feel like I am a little more moveable,” Stroda said. “I am actually able to jog when I am in the water tank.
“I’ve been in the water five times now and I have already seen an improvement,” she said.
She is also starting to jog again outside the tank, said Jeff Sanborn, director of Rehabilitation and Sports Medicine at Memorial Health System.
“We were limping, having difficulty walking, weight bearing. Now she is in here running,” he said.
With the water pool treatment, Stroda is determined to run again in track next spring.
She wrestled this summer, but she said AHS wrestling coach James Stout advised her to take the winter off to heal.
“He said it could mess up my knee more,” she said of wrestling.
Instead, Stroda will be the manager for the AHS wrestling team when it takes to the mat in late November.
Memorial Health System’s board approved the $150,000 for the pool in July. It arrived in early October and started treating patients Oct. 14.
“With arthritis it works great. Post total joints (replacements) are great once the incisions are healed,” Sanborn said. “You take away a little bit of weight bearing and they don’t limp. You can get them to do activities with a little better motion and progress to dry land.”
Sanborn said the aquatic pool can also treat shoulder injuries.
“There are a lot of different things we can treat. People with balance issues can work on balance activities in the water,” he said.
Water therapy is also good for athletes. An Abilene High School football player is being treated.
Kansas City Chief’s quarterback Patrick Mahomes is using water therapy to treat his knee injury.
The HydroWorx pool uses warm water therapy as a medium to enhance rehabilitation and performance through water’s buoyancy, resistance and hydrostatic pressure.
“All of our patients who have been in the pool have said they think it is a great addition,” Sanborn said.
The MHS Rehabilitation and Sports Medicine staff is planning to host an open house for the public in the near future.
“We want the community to stop in and see our new pool,” Sanborn said. “As soon as the finishing touches are complete, we will set the date.”
Contact Tim Horan at firstname.lastname@example.org.