ORA Physical Therapy: It’s All In The Wrist

Dustin Web

Bettendorf High School and Loras College alum, Dustin Harris, 23, has made his home on the field, the pitch, and on the links. The Sports Management major has started his career at the TBK Bank Sports Complex, sharing his love for all things athletic at the Complex’s numerous student sports camps.

“It’s really exciting to use my major and share my love for sports with students here in the Quad Cities,” says Dustin. His gratitude and excitement is due, in part, to a successful surgery that threatened not only to sideline his senior year on Loras’ football team, but potentially hobble his new-found love for golf.

“The fall of my junior season, I was playing on the punt return team, when I blocked a punt and fractured my wrist.” In the ensuing weeks, the pain worsened as he continued to train and lift weights for his senior season. “I kept playing on it. It was terribly difficult, but I lived with it until I was home in May.”

Dustin says a series of misdiagnosis in Dubuque lead him back to his hometown of Bettendorf and a consultation with ORA Orthopedics’ Hand Surgeon, Dr. Jonathan Winston.

“Dustin had suffered what is called a ‘Scaphoid break,’” explains Dr. Winston. “The fracture occurred in the tiny wrist bone below his thumb. Poor blood flow to the injury exacerbates pain, scarring, and stiffness, so these types of injuries need to be treated or the wrist will eventually become arthritic.”

“It was a devastating injury. I wasn’t sure that I’d play my senior year,” adds Dustin.

Dr. Winston says repairing the fracture involves taking a bone graft from Dustin’s radius (the smaller of the two bones in his forearm).  “I graft the tissue into the fracture site and then put a screw to compress the fracture, so eventually, the bone grows back together.”

The outpatient procedure takes about an hour and Dustin, still in a cast, was cleared to play his senior season. “All the football refs would check it out and tell me to make sure and not ‘club anyone.’

“I was careful, but was just so happy to just play my final season.”

His cast was removed seven months later, then the work of rehab began. “I was really nervous to use my hand at all, so therapy was demanding.”

Dr Winston Edit scaled e

Dr. Winston, ORA Orthopedics

Certified Occupational Hand Therapist, Michelle McMurray, ORA Orthopedics, challenged Dustin to continually improve his range of motion and flexibility. Michelle, who specializes in upper extremity therapy from “shoulder to fingertips,” explains that occupational therapists are different from physical therapists. “PT’s will teach you how to achieve your goal, while OT’s teach you what to do once you’ve accomplished it. We tend to be more focused on functional movements for daily living tasks.

“ORA therapists (both PTs and OTs) also have this collegial relationship with the surgeons, so we’re constantly conferring with our client’s ORA physician on-site for the best outcome. For Dustin, we knew he could definitely come back from this injury, but sometimes scar tissue can result in permanent stiffness.”

McMurray Michelle

Michelle McMurray, ORA PT

“She was really honest with me,” affirms Dustin. “I was afraid to push my hand, and she challenged me to get better. I would drive down from Dubuque to see her and it was totally worth it.”

“It’s natural for patients to be hesitant about pushing themselves,” adds Michelle. “I knew his capabilities and athleticism would help. To improve his strength, mobility, and coordination, I would have him pushing a sled, similar to what they use in football practice.

“I also knew he was taking up golf, so we have a set of clubs here at the ORA Therapy Clinic in Bettendorf. He would practice his swing. When he was ready, I encouraged him to go chip and putt, but instead, he came back and told me he played nine holes!”

Dustin laughs. “Yeah, I’m pretty competitive, and I love golf. It’s been a year, and although golf puts demands on my wrist, it feels great now.”

Both Michelle and Dr. Winston agree Dustin has made a successful recovery. “He is doing well. He was one of those patients we all loved to see.” The on-site collaboration with Dustin’s care team ensured he received the right care in real time.

“He’s got positive energy and a dynamic personality and is just fun to work with.”

“Everyone has been just great,” Dustin adds. “My wrist doesn’t get sore and it hasn’t affected my golf swing, so I can’t blame my bad shots on the wrist!”