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High School Graduate Aces Physical Therapy to Pursue College Tennis Team

Published on Friday, July 28, 2017
Maya Campbell playing tennis
Maya Campbell is all smiles after working with physical therapist Tim Webb to overcome her back pain so she can play tennis at SVSU this fall.

Maya Campbell, of Swartz Creek, may be slightly more excited about the future than the average high school senior. Her school year progressively got better for more reasons than senior pictures, prom, and graduation itself. Maya was concerned that her back and leg pain would prevent her from playing tennis not only during her senior year, but also prohibit her from doing so at college too. Fortunately, in November 2016, she met her match in physical therapist Tim Webb who sees patients at McLaren Flint’s Therapy Services outpatient facility in Flushing.

“My pain started almost two years ago,” states Maya. “What is weird is that there was no specific event that caused it. It just kept getting slightly worse over time when I would be working out for tennis. The first thing I tried was physical therapy, but because I was misdiagnosed with scoliosis, the therapy did not work.”

Maya next consulted with an orthopedic specialist. An MRI and X-rays revealed what she really had was a bulging disc and Sacroiliac Joint Dysfunction (SI Joint Pain). This condition is thought to cause lower back and/or leg pain. The leg pain can be particularly difficult, often feeling similar to sciatica or pain caused by a lumbar disc herniation. Maya’s treatment options were lumbar injections or more physical therapy. She first met with Tim on November 10, 2016. After a few sessions the two came up with a game plan that included physical therapy (which was beginning to give her some pain relief) trying lumbar injections, and continuing with physical therapy prior to the start of tennis season in late February of this year. While Maya was volleying between injections and physical therapy Tim decided to do some research on her condition.

“When I re-evaluated Maya in February 2017, I discovered weakness in her abdominal and gluteus maximus muscles and tightness in her hip flexors and quadratus lumborum muscle, which help stabilize the hip and spine,” states Tim. “The combination of these issues is called lower cross syndrome. I began focusing on core strengthening, stretching, and soft tissue and joint mobilization to address her deficits.”

At the beginning of physical therapy Maya ranked her pain at 9 on a scale of zero to 10. Now, if she does experience pain, it never exceeds 2 or 3. Due to this improvement, she was able to play the entire tennis season this past spring with minimal issues.

“Tim taught me to do so many stretches on my own,” says Maya. “He knew how much I had at stake and did everything he could to help me achieve my goals and fulfill my commitment to play next fall at Saginaw Valley State University.”

Tim’s main goal was eliminating Maya’s pain so she could continue to compete.

“I am always motivated by challenging diagnoses,” states Tim. “It is gratifying to coach someone through their chronic pain and Maya was definitely driven to do that.”

High school may be over, but Maya did well enough to qualify for state tennis competitions in June.

“Tim made me laugh and made therapy as fun as it could be,” adds Maya. “I don’t know where my tennis game would be today without his help.”

Maya’s love of the sport pushed her to achieve her goals. Tim’s love of a challenge and seeing a patient get well keeps him in the game. You could say they both aced it!