Jerry Hightower

Chattanooga, TN

I suffered my initial right knee injury, including torn ACL, MCL, and meniscus, 48 years ago during a U.S. Army intramural softball game while I stationed at Fort Bragg in North Carolina.   My left knee was injured less seriously than my right knee, also playing softball 8 years later.  The injuries resulted in me having surgeries on each knee, primarily removal of torn meniscus. 

Although the surgeries temporarily helped, I was forced to give up most sports requiring lateral movement; therefore, I transitioned to running, swimming, cycling, a few triathlons, and one marathon.  

About fifteen years ago, my right knee pain had increased significantly, so I visited Andrews Sports Medicine  for the first time, because it had a great reputation for helping athletes return to the sports that they enjoyed, even those of us who were primarily exercising to achieve and maintain good physical conditioning and overall health.  An “unloading” type knee brace was prescribed for me as an alternative to a knee replacement in order to allow me to continue running.  The brace helped for many years, however, in this past year, my knee pain had increased to the point that I could not run anymore; and even walking or other daily activities were painful.

Finally, I decided to return to Andrews Sports Medicine to see what they could do for me. I had heard about and done some research about Bone Marrow Aspiration; and wondered if my knees would be candidates for that treatment.  Therefore, I made an appointment with Dr. Ricardo Colberg, after I learned about his expertise with that type of treatment on the Andrews Sports Medicine website.
Dr. Colberg advised me that in his opinion the Bone Marrow Aspiration would help my knees, although I should not expect as much improvement in my right knee, since the original injury was more severe and a longer time ago.  During my visit with Dr. Colberg, I learned he is a runner as well so he was able to give me tips on how to change my running form to a mid-foot strike, instead of a heel strike, in order to reduce stress on my knees. Talking to Dr. Colberg about my knees was like talking to a text book.  He, along with the other staff members at Andrews Sports Medicine are very knowledgeable, very professional, and very kind. I think they get special training in being nice.  I was treated as if I were as important as any of the famous athletes that they have treated. 

Dr. Colberg performed a bone marrow aspirate injection in both knees and then prescribed 10 physical therapy sessions for me. The treatments have helped significantly with pain in both of my knees, especially in walking up steps or hills. I’m very thankful for the process and outcome of the treatments.  I have been able to return to running, which is something that my wife and I love to do.  I’m now able to run 3 miles or more on 3 days per week; therefore, this is a great improvement from not being able to run at all.  My wife and I enjoy running together, because it keeps us healthier, it’s a great stress reliever, and it also provides time away from phones and other distractions when we can just talk to each other.

In 1991, my wife and I started a non-profit, all-volunteer organization named SPARC, A Chapter of Disabled Sports USA (DSUSA) - an organization that provides adaptive sports opportunities for individuals of all ages and with various disabilities, which allows them to exercise and have social interaction through recreational and competitive sports, including cycling, water skiing, snow skiing, para-triathlon training, wheelchair basketball, and kayaking.

My knee injuries had kept me from participating in the organization to my full potential. Now that I’ve had treatments and can walk and run on my knees without severe pain again, I can help lead the events alongside the other volunteers. My wife and I believe that God has a plan for each of our lives; and we believe the injuries and recovery has been a part of His plan. I think the injuries have helped me to better understand what some of the individuals that we serve are going through. Hopefully, this helps us make SPARC a better organization that positively impacts the lives of the youth and adults that we serve.

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Ricardo E. Colberg, MD
Ricardo E. Colberg, MD View Bio