Athlete Highlight: Gracie Corbett
Graceanne “Gracie” is a 14 year old soccer midfielder with the FC Stars of Massachusetts on the 2003 US Soccer Development Academy team. She has been training at The Micheli Center since March 2017 after sustaining an ACL and meniscus tear in her right knee in December 2016. The Micheli Center was recommended to Gracie and her parents by her physical therapist at Boston Children’s Hospital.
In January 2017, Gracie underwent surgery with Dr. Dennis Kramer in the Sports Medicine Division of Boston Children’s Hospital to repair her torn ACL and meniscus. Through her hard work, dedication to her rehab regimen, and self-determination, Gracie was fully cleared to return to sports by her surgeon at her 6-month post-op appointment. At that time frame, athletes are usually just cleared to return to running and other activities but not contact sports or competition.
When chatting with Dr. Kramer, he explained how impressed he was with Gracie’s ability and determination to rehab so quickly. “Gracie’s muscle testing results at her 6-month follow-up were off the charts. She essentially had complete recovery of all the strength in her knee at that visit. This is almost unheard of after major surgery like she had. It normally takes a year to regain that strength.”
Gracie has been training with Jen Morse through the ACL Return-to-Play program but also holds a monthly membership so she can work out on her own and go through the exercises that she’s learned with Jen and her physical therapist. However, outside of the center, Gracie has also been diligently training at home and the community pool, keeping a detailed log as she progresses through her pre- and post-surgical instructions.
Jen, who often sees the patients at their 6-month post-op appointments for measurements, was equally as impressed by Gracie’s progress and got to see it first-hand during their weekly training sessions. “What’s most impressive about Gracie is her determination outside of our training sessions together. Typically, our athletes go through our program and spend one additional day per week devoted to their exercises. Gracie exceeded these expectations which I strongly believe allowed her to be fully cleared at 6 months.”
At The Micheli Center, we like to recommend 3-4 sessions per week dedicated to strength training. It’s more typical that the ACL rehabilitation process takes at least 9 months to a year, if not more. “With Gracie being only 14 years old, it is also remarkable that she takes control of her own rehabilitation. Although I’ve taught her proper movement patterns and provided her programming, she has done all the true work,” Jen added.
Gracie’s world came to a screeching halt after this accident and was devastated at the thought of missing time on the soccer field. Instead of moving forward with a negative approach, her parents encouraged her to put her effort and focus on her rehab with the same energy and emphasis that she puts toward soccer. This new perspective changed Gracie’s attitude and journey to recovery.
Along with the new challenge, Gracie has found her road to recovery to be intense and long, yet rewarding. In addition to reaching her goal of being fully cleared for sports at her 6-month follow-up appointment, Gracie, inadvertently, achieved an additional goal of becoming a stronger athlete.
“The Micheli Center has taught me many things. One of the most important things I am continuing to learn right now is to know my body. I am learning to be able to control my movements, breathing, and being able to know when I am doing an exercise wrong without having my trainer remind me. I have also learned numerous great exercises that I expect I’ll always use, even when I am not injured.”
When faced with this injury, Gracie admirably looked up to the strength and determination of Megan Rapinoe, American professional soccer player and fellow midfielder, who has torn her ACL three times. Like Rapinoe, Gracie has been able to overcome the injury both mentally and physically and although tragic, it has provided her with a different perspective and new strengths. After reading a quote of Rapinoe’s, Gracie agrees that she wouldn’t wish this injury on their least favorite opposition but also wouldn’t change the experience.