Hagerstown woman's injury led to study of physical therapy

September 01, 2008|By HEATHER KEELS

HAGERSTOWN -- An interest that began with a high school sports injury is turning into a career in helping others for a 2004 North Hagerstown High School graduate who began classes this summer for a physical therapy degree at the University of Maryland, Baltimore.

Corrie Jones, 22, said she was inspired to become a physical therapist after she tore her ACL, one of the ligaments that connects the bones of the knee joint, running hurdles in track her senior year of high school. Jones, who was training for college soccer, feared the injury would end her soccer aspirations, but her therapist at the Center for Joint Surgery and Sports Medicine helped her through.

"She said, 'We're gonna get you back,'" Jones said. "She got me through rehab so quickly, I missed one week preseason, then I was right in it."

Since then, Jones has worked to pass on that same compassion and enthusiasm to others. She graduated in May from Messiah College in Grantham, Pa., where she studied sport and exercise science with a concentration in pre-physical therapy, and she aspires to one day work as a physical therapist in a third-world country.


She got an opportunity to try out her ambition over spring break this year, when she served as the student leader for a mission trip to the Dominican Republic through the medical charity CURE International. There, the 11 pre-physical therapy students and their professor worked in a pediatric orthopedic hospital established by CURE to treat children whose families cannot afford medical care.

"I jumped on it right away because that's what I want to do in my life," Jones said.

The group spent about eight days in March doing "anything and everything" they could to help out at the hospital, such as folding bandages, filing paperwork, entertaining patients and conducting follow-up visits at patients' homes, Jones said.

The group also got to watch several surgeries and assist the hospital's sole physical therapist.

Jones said she was particularly inspired by a toddler named Jose who couldn't walk because he was born with one of his femurs much smaller than the other. With the help of a brace, the boy's leg grew about 3 1/2 inches in a month, Jones said.

In the Dominican Republic, this type of care can mean the difference between a normal life and living on the streets, she said.

"Americans really take care, generally, of the disabled," she said. "But down there, it's basically if you can't work ... you can't do anything."

Most of the families the students talked to said CURE was their last hope because they were unable to afford treatment for their children anywhere else, Jones said.

The experience added to Jones' determination to work as a physical therapist in a third-world country, and she said she would especially like to return to CURE's Dominican Republic hospital after completing her degree because the facility has only one physical therapist.

The only thing standing in her way is being able to afford to pay off her college loans, but Jones said she isn't too worried.

"God's good," she said. "He'll find a way if that's what I'm supposed to be doing."

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