Wrestling athletes are known for pushing their bodies to the limit to best their opponent and pin them to the mat. As a physical education teacher and wrestling coach for Malcolm Public Schools, Matt Coufal was very active before a shoulder injury and labrum repair surgery nearly had him on the sidelines.

“There was intense pain with many motions of my shoulder. I was unable to demonstrate most techniques at wrestling practice and a lot of the activities that were involved in physical education,” said Matt.

That’s when Jill Smith, a physical therapist, and Caitlin Orth, a physical therapist assistant, at Madonna TherapyPlus Northwest worked with Matt to develop an individualized physical therapy treatment plan to help him return to his coaching and educator roles.

“As a high school coach and former athlete, Matt had the knowledge and capability to perform strengthening exercises on his own.  Therefore, Caitlin and I were able to work together to create a program that he could carry out at the school gym and his home.  His greatest needs were the manual therapy skills and passive range of motion that we were able to provide in the controlled environment of the clinic.  Matt was a very hard worker and committed to doing his exercises independently.  As a physical therapist, it is fun to work with patients who are self motivated and eager to achieve their greatest potential.  We thoroughly enjoyed working with Matt and took the opportunity to instruct higher level exercises to improve shoulder stabilization for return to the physical needs of wrestling and football coaching.”

Matt says Jill worked with his busy schedule and the experience taught him how recovery takes time.

“I now understand the process and method used by physical therapy and how slow shoulder recovery is,” he said.

For others going through a similar experience, he has some advice.

“Shoulders are a slow process. Follow the therapist’s protocol and don’t rush. Push yourself at physical therapy and trust in them.”

Madonna TherapyPlus Northwest, an outpatient clinic of Madonna Rehabilitation Hospitals-Lincoln, offers a variety of services, including physical therapy for orthopedic conditions and post-surgery recovery. Call 402.434.5905 to learn more.