Shriners Hospital Gives Student Athlete Care and Confidence to Compete


Antwon working out with his physical therapist

Antwon began his freshman year at Kennedy High School in Sacramento with a desire to excel in academics and sports. His fall semester seemed practically perfect. His class schedule included his two favorite subjects — science and math. When classes were over, he laced up his cleats and headed to football practice.

The schedule was right in sync with 15-year-old Antwon’s long-term goals. “I want to finish high school strong, earn a college degree in engineering and become a professional athlete,” he says.

Antwon working out with his physical therapist

When he was carried off the football field due to a knee injury in the fall of 2017, Antwon questioned his future as an athlete.  Thanks to the Sports Medicine team at Shriners Hospitals for Children — Northern California, he is on track to return to the playing field.

Nicole Friel, M.D., an orthopaedic surgeon and sports medicine specialist at the Shriners Hospital in Sacramento, reconstructed Antwon’s ACL and repaired the meniscus before prescribing a healthy dose of physical therapy.

“Antwon received the appropriate early care to diagnose his ACL injury and then had well-timed surgery in which we were able to repair the meniscus in addition to reconstructing the ACL. Now, it’s up to Antwon and his physical therapist to get him back to his pre-injury level of sport,” says Dr. Friel.

Antwon’s rehabilitation began with bi-weekly therapy with Bill Workman, P.T., a Shriners Hospital physical therapist specializing in sports injuries.  Initially, the goal of physical therapy for the sports medicine patients is to maintain strength of non-injured joints and muscles while steadily improving the injured joint through a progressive return of range of motion and strength.

“We incorporate a philosophy of total body movement with a focus on good biomechanics that involves multiple muscle groups. The idea is to have therapy address the child as a whole, while working to strengthen the injured body part,” says Workman. “Antwon and I set goals that would challenge him to become better than he was before, to be able to reduce likelihood of re-injury and to prepare him for return to sport with a high level of confidence.”

Antwon participates in weekly exercise groups that Workman organizes for patients being treated by the sports medicine team.  The group sessions allow the young athletes to work individually while benefiting from the camaraderie of a team.

Antwon says his injury and experience at Shriners Hospital have given him the strength and confidence he needs to return to his favorite sports – baseball, basketball and football.

“It has made me stronger both physically and mentally and more motivated than ever before,” says Antwon.

His mother, April, agrees. “Our experience with Shriners has been amazing, and I will be forever grateful. We were blessed to have been referred to Dr. Friel, and she has taken great care of my son both in and out of the operating room.  But the blessing doesn’t stop with the doctor,” she says.  “All the staff has been great.  Everyone is pleasant and very accommodating. Physical therapist Bill and his assistant Deric have gone above and beyond to get my son through each one of his milestones. They also have helped him get his confidence back.”

Goal scored.