Injured rugby player Isabella Masi makes full recovery at Sports Science Lab

After tearing her ACL, Isabella and her team of doctors opted for ACL surgery. Isabella experienced some complications following her ACL surgery. In fact, her doctor told her she would not be able to play sports again. She was making little progress at her original physical therapy facility. When she came to the Sports Science Lab (SSL), our team of sports science experts analyzed Isabella under a scientific lens, via our Global Athletic Assessment. Our team, led by our sports physiotherapist, Rushi Shahiwala put together a targeted plan to help Isabella get back on the field. This targeted plan included specialized rehab using neurotechnology, strobe goggles and isokinetic testing and rehabiliation. Research conducted by Ohio State University found that regaining full function after an ACL injury is more than just physical. Retraining the brain is critical in recovering from such a dramatic injury faster. Our protocol included re-training Isabella’s brain by having her put on strobe goggles, while performing a neuromuscular re-education exercise on the isokinetic device. The goal of this exercise was to change the way Isabella’s brain processes information following her injury. Brain scans from Ohio State University’s study showed that people who suffered an ACL injury relied more on their visual systems in the brain, when moving their knee.

Implementing strobe goggles to improve Isabella’s motor control in rehab proved to be successful. The goggles strobe effect tricked Isabella’s brain to her normal state, before the injury occurred in the first place. SSL’s protocol also included performance-training exercises using a multi-resistance exercise platform, which both dynamically and simultaneously loads multiple points on the human body.

This platform has been scientifically proven to improve vertical jump, explosiveness, functional strength, and speed training, which helped transition Isabella out of her rehab phase and into a more strength building phase. Paired with visual stimulus technology and the whole body resistance bands forced Isabella to work harder, while priming the brain to adapt/react faster to variable stimuli. This increased her confidence in getting back to the field quicker. Localized cryotherapy also was instrumental in Isabella’s recovery. By targeting her ACL injury site, our team was able to reduce the swelling in that area, and allow her to recover quick and better following rehab and training. Our scientific approach to Isabella’s recovery proved to be the difference in allowing her to get back on the field at a much faster pace. In addition, Isabella was active on the Anti-Gravity Treadmill, in which she was able to run on only 20% of her body weight. This reduced the stress on her joints and muscles, especially for her ACL, as it allowed her to improve her conditioning, without further hindering her injury. This also allowed her to rehab at a much faster pace, and allowed her to fully heal before transitioning into the performance-training phase.

Since Isabella’s targeted rehab sessions at the lab, she has returned to the field to play Rugby injury free. She currently plays for Morris Rugby and NJ Blaze as a Flanker and 8 man. Isabella is a regular in Crossfit, as it helps her train for intense Rugby and soccer games. Isabella is looking to play Rugby in college and is currently being scouted from Rice University, Princeton University, and Florida State University.

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