A Broken Shoulder and a Clean Break: Dan’s Story

When Dan Best broke his shoulder, his doctor told him he was lucky he didn’t also tear his rotator cuff. Dan didn’t feel particularly lucky having received his first broken bone, but he listened to the doctor’s advice and set down the long road to recovery which included 1 surgery, 2 months of an immobilized shoulder and 5 months of physical therapy.

After his surgery and more than 60 days in an immobilization sling, Dan headed to physical therapy, another first for him. Per his doctor’s recommendation he went to ARC Physical Therapy+ in Overland Park.

Although he had an idea of what the therapy would be like, he was surprised how much his shoulder had atrophied since the injury; it hardly worked. His physical therapist, Kimberly Sumner, MSPT, CSMT, wasn’t daunted. She told him he should be able to get his shoulder back to full functional and set out to customize a plan.

“Coming up with a plan for each patient involves several factors,” Kimberly said. “You have to consider what type of tissue is involved and what type of procedures have been performed. From there it’s a matter of looking at the whole person: their prior level of function, the type of work they do, their goals, and the deficits they have in other areas that may affect their outcomes.”

The plan was set and it began with flexibility and getting Dan’s shoulder used to moving again. Dan had his doubts if full recovery was possible after the first few visits and making what felt like very little progress, but again Kimberly reassured him, explaining the importance of progressing at the right speed.

Dan was impressed with Kimberly’s knowledge and intrigued by the science behind her recommendations, “Kimberly taught me how to do the exercises, what it was doing for the muscle, and how it would help get the benefits we needed. She also explained the sequence, so I understood how we would build on each exercise. It was very interesting.”

Kimberly shared her reason for doing this, “Education along the way is key. The more the patient understands what’s going on with their injury, the quicker they return to their prior level of function.”

After about a month, Dan’s range of motion had greatly improved and Kimberly added in strength building. By this point, Dan was on board with the rate of progress, “they didn’t give me anything my shoulder wasn’t ready for, they monitored my progress closely and recommended new exercises based on that.”

Dan was a great patient and understood his role in recovery. “It was challenging and took some diligence on my part, but it wasn’t any harder than practicing for track and field like I did in high school. I understood one of the keys to successful physical therapy is putting in effort to get results out and did what I needed to do.”

After 2 months of therapy Dan was thrilled (and relieved) to be able to do everyday things he hadn’t done for months due to the injury. Small tasks like brushing his teeth, shaving and showering had been a challenge. Even worse, sleeping had been a struggle in an effort to protect his shoulder and back. His quality of life drastically improved.

Although his physician recommended 5 months of physical therapy, Dan only needed to complete 4 months. He received the all clear and was released to full work with no restrictions.

“The process was amazing,” Dan shared. “Initially, it surprised me how much my shoulder had atrophied, and then it surprised me how quickly it came back. Kimberly and the team made it easy and I would absolutely recommend them. The clinic has two things that are super important. First, good experienced physical therapists. And second, the whole team worked together really well. They were all ready to step up and help me. They all knew exactly where I was and what the next steps were, so it was a seamless experience for me. I always knew someone would be there for me.”

Kimberly agreed that teamwork makes a difference, “In our industry you never know how your day is going to go. The more we look at every patient in the room as “our patient” the better the outcomes for everyone.”

“I cannot thank Kimberly, Josh, Mindi, Elli, and Loredana enough,” Dan said. “I am impressed with the dedicated care and team work their team displayed every visit. Thank you so much.”

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