Ready to run – the trauma team at Methodist Dallas helped Amber Gregory triumph over her injuries
On Nov. 15, 2012, Amber Gregory achieved a personal best in her daily runs — five seven-minute miles in a row.
“I thought: ‘Oh my gosh! Look where I’m at!’” the Red Oak resident recalls. “Then the next day, boom!”
On her way to meet with a client on Nov. 16, a head-on collision landed the 27-year-old athletic trainer’s vehicle in a ditch. After first responders used the Jaws of Life to free Gregory, they transported her to the emergency department at Methodist Dallas Medical Center.
At first, Gregory barely noticed her injuries, but they were quite severe. A perceived “little cut” in her right knee turned out to be a gaping wound down to the bone. A “sprained ankle” was really a broken talus bone, which usually requires surgery to heal. And difficulty breathing was the result of four cracked ribs.
How to heal an athlete
Orthopedic traumatologist and sports medicine specialist Usha Mani, MD, the knee wound and chose to let Gregory’s ankle heal naturally in a cast for faster recovery. But both she and trauma surgeon Joseph Amos, MD, insisted that Gregory hold off on any weight bearing for three months. The fitness lover was devastated.
“At my follow-up appointment the next week, Dr. Amos sympathized with me,” Gregory says. “He said: ‘I get it. This is your life. Not only do you do this for a living, but you do it helping other people. And now I’m saying you can’t do it.’”
But both doctors knew that the right recovery plan could have Gregory back to those seven-minute miles in a year.
“Immediately when I met Amber, I knew she’d be one of those patients who was going to push herself to return,” Dr. Mani says. “It’s a graduated rehabilitation, especially for athletes, and she took her care plan and ran with it, quite literally.”
Going the distance
Gregory continued to train clients but was careful to stay on her crutches. As weeks passed, the cast and knee brace came off, she resumed upper-body strength training, and physical therapy began. Her milestone in February was gingerly but courageously walking step by step out of the doctor’s office. In March, she received the next go-ahead in her recovery: permission to run.
“Amber was able to take ownership of her injured extremity, and then with our coordinated care, she was able to return back to all those things that she loves to do,” Dr. Mani says.
By September, Gregory had worked her way up to those seven-minute miles, and around the anniversary of her accident, she plans to run a 10K.
But Gregory says running long races isn’t the point. Rather, she says, “Just having that freedom of going for a run whenever I want to is what is humbling and freeing.”