People always ask me how did I get into post ACL rehab and why did I open a gym specifically for that. The answer is simple…I wanted to help more athletes that were experiencing an ACL injury. But how did this passion of mine develop? Well that is a story in itself.
In 2003, I was working at Wyandotte Roosevelt High School. It was the beginning of the winter sports season and the number one middle blocker went down with a non contact ACL tear. The athlete was devastated. The coaching staff was devastated. The team was devastated. It was a tough situation but we all had to come together and support the injured athlete through her journey back. Now I had seen my fair share of ACL tears at the PT clinic I had been working at. But ACL tears in a clinical setting are different than ACLs in a high school setting. There is no connection made between patient and clinician like there is when you are in a high school setting. Also, when working in a clinical setting, we are guided by insurance rules and regulations. In order to be reimbursed by the insurance company, we had to have the patient walking pain free for at least 300 yards, able to ascend and descend stairs reciprocally, able to get in and out of a car pain free, able to sleep through the night without waking up in pain and able to complete all normal activities of daily living pain free. Jump landings and cutting drills were touched on and corrected but no significant training time was dedicated to it. There would be no programmed weight training program to get the athlete’s body/joints back in shape to tolerate the stresses of sport. Insurance companies do not deem sports training as important therefore they do not reimburse for that type of training.
In a high school setting I have the ability to work on both the physical and mental part of the return. I was with the athlete EVERY DAY of the rehab process. I was there through the good and bad parts. I LOVED every minute of it. I loved the idea of getting an athlete stronger than they originally were…or at least that was my goal with every ACL athlete I worked with. I loved the idea of making an athlete believe (and achieve) they can reach goals they never believed they could before their injury. There are so many fears the athlete goes through during their journey back from an ACL return and I am able to address them more efficiently in this type of setting versus a PT setting.
I started to fine tune my craft. I read research articles on ACLs non contact vs contact. I read about every aspect of the ACL injury from the biomechanics of the injury to what the latest research was saying would help decrease the risk of experiencing an ACL tear. I was going back for my masters during this time so every research project/opportunity presented to me I took advantage of and read more research on the ACL injury. I was becoming stronger in my craft and the orthopedic surgeon I worked closely with for the high school was recognizing my efforts. It was he who originally put the little spark in my eyes of branching out. I had developed a passion and needed to share it with others. By working directly at the high school I was limiting myself to the athletes around me. There were so many more athletes out there that I could help through their ACL journey.
In 2009, I established Innovative Training Solutions and started reaching out to gyms, travel teams and other programs working with athletes on injury prevention and working with athletes that were going through the ACL journey. I was continuing to fine tune my craft but I needed to get my name out there. It was important to me that I start impacting more athletes. But I needed to step away from the Wyandotte attachment that came with working there. In 2012-2013, I was offered an opportunity to open my own gym and I jumped at it. It was the perfect way of reaching more athletes in a gym setting specifically designed to guide them through their journey back. in January 2014, Innovative Training Solutions finally had it's own gym available to anyone interested in training with me.
I have continued to fine tune my skills over the years. I am always applying new methods but staying true to my basic foundation of combining the principles of athletic training/rehabilitation and the basic principles of strength training. This foundation has allowed the athletes I work with to gain greater strength in their lower extremity than any athlete following the traditional route of physical therapy. I am able to guide the athlete and address their fears as they encounter them throughout the healing process. I have created an environment where ACL athletes train together in small groups. Athletes learn to rely on each other, supporting each other in the down times and encouraging/celebrating each other during the good. It’s a pretty cool experience to witness. Parents are able to stay and watch or drop their athlete off and let them work. I am also a support system to parents as well. They are going through their own set of emotions and need help too.
The ACL journey at Innovative Training Solutions with me is all encompassing and involves:
Contact me if you are ready to start your journey...I am ready to help you back to the sport you love!
Owner, Innovative Training Solutions
Anna Napolitano is an athletic trainer with both clinical and high school experience for over 17 years. Anna's interest in sports began at the age of ten when she started competing in gymnastics. Her competitive spirit peaked when she became very involved in basketball and volleyball during her middle and high school years. Anna's commitment and love for the game of volleyball landed her an athletic and academic scholarship to Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, FL. She participated in intercollegiate volleyball for two seasons before deciding to focus solely on her academics. Knowing she did not want to leave the athletic world, Anna brought her passion for sports into her career and transferred to the University of Michigan - Ann Arbor where she was accepted into their student athletic trainer program.She was able to have hands on experience working with Michigan athletes and apply all that she learned in class everyday to her daily training room experiences. A 1998 graduate of the University of Michigan, Anna has a Bachelor of Science in athletic training and movement science. Anna became board certified as an athletic trainer in November 1999 through the National Athletic Trainer's Association Board of Certification. In October 2010, Anna was published in the NATA News with her study titled "A Unique Treatment Protocol for Osteochondritis Dissecans of the Knee: A Case Report." Anna obtained her Masters of Science in exercise physiology from Eastern Michigan University in April of 2015. She is currently licensed through the state of Michigan as an Athletic Trainer.