Physical Therapy Keeps Pitcher in the Game

Photo of Derek Parks
With help from the Mizzou Therapy Services staff, Derek Parks was able to finish baseball season playing with his high school team after a shoulder injury. Behind Derek are members of his physical therapy team, Lindsey Colbert, DPT, and Jonathan Buehler, DPT.

Derek Parks, 18, proudly wears red, the school color of Adair County High School in his hometown of Novinger, Missouri. Since his freshman year, Derek was a starting pitcher for the school's Wildcats baseball team.

When Derek injured his pitching arm senior year, the thought of sitting out and missing the final season with his team seemed devastating.

"I've played baseball my entire life," Derek said. "I couldn't not play. It's a love I'll probably never lose."

At the Missouri Orthopaedic Institute, Richard Ma, MD, evaluated Derek and recommended surgery for the labral tear in Derek's right shoulder. The injury prevented Derek from pitching without extreme pain. With the doctor's approval, Derek decided to postpone surgery until the baseball season ended. Returning to the pitcher's mound would require intensive physical therapy.

In March 2015, Derek began weekly appointments at Mizzou Therapy Services with physical therapist Lindsey Colbert, DPT.

During the final three months of his senior high school year, Derek woke at 5 a.m. once a week and drove approximately 150 miles to the Missouri Orthopaedic Institute in Columbia for physical therapy sessions. Lindsey led Derek through exercises and evaluations, assigning him a "homework" page detailing stretches and exercises that he completed daily at home.

"I'm extremely proud of Derek and all his progress he made since we first started seeing him for his shoulder in March," Lindsey said. "He worked really hard during therapy and improved his stability and ability to participate in baseball. Toward the end of the season, he could throw a decent number of innings without symptoms."

Not only was Derek back in the game, but he helped take the Wildcats to the district's championship game. He also represented his school's district in the Missouri High School Baseball Coaches Association's all-star game in June.

"The people at the Missouri Orthopaedic Institute are just amazing," Derek said. "I don’t think they get enough credit for what they do. I would recommend them 100 percent."

Mizzou Pitching and Performance Clinic

A new clinic at MU Health Care offers baseball and softball players with arm and shoulder injuries evaluation and treatment recommendations by an experienced physical therapist in one visit.

The clinic is open to baseball and softball players age 9 and older with arm and shoulder injuries that inhibit their throwing and pitching performance. With a doctor's referral, a physical therapist will administer physical tests and perform video analysis of patients' throwing mechanics. Then a personalized rehabilitation plan will be designed to optimize recovery and ensure the patients return to play at their full potential.

For more information about the pitching clinic or to schedule an appointment, please call Mizzou Therapy Services at the Missouri Orthopaedic Institute at (573) 884-0655.

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