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No Backpaddling Needed: Therapy helps canoe enthusiast recover from ski accident

Posted on March 8, 2018 in Therapy Services

No Backpaddling Needed

Therapy helps canoe enthusiast recover from ski accident in time for paddling trip

After a ski accident landed her in physical therapy, Lori Patterson, MD, set a goal to get back to work and the outdoor sports she loves.Even for the most experienced skier, accidents that require physical therapy can still happen.

Lori Patterson, MD, of Knoxville has enjoyed skiing for most of her life. In March 2017, she was on the slopes of Lake Tahoe when she took a tumble. “I broke both bones in my lower left leg, and I knew it immediately,” she said. 

“The ski patrol got there quickly, and the local hospital had an excellent orthopedic team. In fact, the surgeon worked with the U.S. ski team,” she remembered. The medical team placed an internal plate and screws on her tibia (the larger bone in the lower leg), while the smaller (fibula) bone would heal on its own.

Once home in Knoxville, Dr. Patterson did her physical rehabilitation at Fort Sanders Therapy Center – Downtown, a member of Covenant Therapy Centers. It’s conveniently located across the street from East Tennessee Children’s Hospital, where Dr. Patterson works as a pediatric infectious disease specialist.

Her goal? To get back to work and the outdoor sports she loves, especially a scheduled trip to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in Northern Minnesota. The area features thousands of miles of canoe and hiking routes through stunning terrain and many lakes.

“My family has been very much in love with the Boundary Waters area,” said Dr. Patterson. “Our sons first learned about it because they are all Eagle Scouts. But my husband and I started going with them, and this was to be our fourth trip together. We canoe lake-to-lake, carrying all of our gear and food with us. I went into physical therapy with the goal of going on that trip.

“I had a fair amount of swelling, and the therapists worked very hard to get that under control with massage and compression. We also worked on my balance and agility, and they tailored my therapy to simulate hiking up a hillside. We had a timeline to meet.”

By July, Dr. Patterson was ready.

“The trip was wonderful,” she said. “We spent seven days canoeing, and six nights camping. I was able to keep up with the guys; I don’t think I slowed them down at all. It was an absolutely gorgeous area.

“I just really want to give a big ‘bow-tie’ thank you to Fort Sanders Therapy Center – Downtown,” said Dr. Patterson. “They were very engaged in my progress, and they were enthusiastic and encouraging. I could not have had a better experience.”