Meet Brad

On February 6, 2016 Brad Stephenson was honored and awarded with the Comeback Runner of the Year Awarded presented by NovaCare Rehabilitation at the CARA Awards Banquet. Brad, an active runner and sports enthusiast suffered an acute injury to the ankle while playing kickball which required a surgical procedure to fix. After an initial round of unsuccessful physical therapy Brad's friends recommended he get a second opinion from Molly Foreman, a physical therapist at NovaCare Rehabilitation. Molly conducted a series of careful analysis and physical therapy treatments which led her to believe that there was a deeper problem. Brad underwent another surgery and worked with Molly to build strength and return to running.

Meet Brad

CARA's Comeback Runner of the Year presented by NovaCare Rehabilitation

Throughout my life I have always been known as the active, adventurous athlete. I have completed one marathon, seven half-marathons, countless 10-milers and 5-milers, and other events such as the Tough Mudder. I was also actively participating in three different recreational sports leagues throughout Chicago. However, all of that came to a screeching halt on October 8, 2013. During a kickball game as I rounded third base, I ended up tearing my medial mallous, superficial and deep deltoid ligaments and peroneous brevis tendon and had a six-and-a-half hour surgery at Illinois Masonic.

Due to the severity of the injury and surgery, I was referred to a ‘chop-shop’ physical therapy company for post-operative and post-reconstruction physical therapy sessions. The goal was to allow me to return back to pre-ankle reconstruction status. I ended up completing 78 physical therapy sessions over a 9-month span. Toward the end of my physical therapy recovery I noticed that things did not feel right – I was not able to jog briskly on the treadmill and suffered from major swelling after physical activity. The physical therapist, upon discharge from physical therapy, informed me that due to the severity of my surgery that it would take a long time to “fully” recover but if I continued with my exercises and icing post-physical therapy that I should return back to pre-reconstructive surgery within a year.

I was convinced that something was not right, and taking another six months off, I decided to consult with physical therapy friends of mine. They told me I should get a second opinion and many recommended Molly as the go-to person. After consulting with my original orthopedic surgeon, he was convinced that I just needed additional physical therapy and Molly was the person to assist me on my road to a full-recovery. After spending six weeks with Molly, she worked relentlessly to get to the root of the problem. She was convinced something was not right mechanically and it was not just a post-surgery soreness. Molly took the time to analyze my ankle, compare those notes with common physical therapy problems, and even sought additional issues and potential problems from her old physical therapy textbooks. It became clear that the issue was not related to physical therapy but that there was an actual mechanical and surgical problem. After speaking with my orthopedic surgeon and pointing out what she believed was wrong, he ordered another MRI with contrast. And guess what – she was right. Molly, who had only been working on my ankle for a little over two months, had correctly identified that I had an allergic reaction to the composite screws in my ankle – a condition that, according to my orthopedic surgeon, only happens in 1-2% of all patients nationwide.

After having another surgery to remove all of the pins in my ankle, drilling a hole in the ankle to mix marrow and “bone putty” to adhere the ligaments and tendons to surfaces, I was able to go back to physical therapy within a matter of weeks. Molly worked me to the bone, not allowing me to give up or let go of the dream of becoming an active participant in sports and running. See, sometimes there are many obstacles that are thrown in front of us. We can choose to either run around them or run through them. I was determined to run through this obstacle and without Molly’s help, I would have not been able to cross the finish line. Molly is the true hero in all of this, and I want to thank her from the bottom of my heart, because without her giving her all in my recovery.

I am looking forward to completing the Rock and Roll Half this summer. Thank you to CARA and NovaCare for honoring me with this award. And once again, thank you for all that you do Molly.