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Samarie in Motion

Samarie Walker has all the right moves

Samarie IC
Athletic Trainer Brett Hoffman helps Samarie Walker reprogram her body movements to prevent pain.
Samarie Walker was born to play basketball. “My dad had a ball in my hands when I was 9 months old,” says the lithe, 6-foot-1-inch 17-year-old. “I was playing at age 2 and on a team by age 4.” Samarie’s early commitment to the game has paid off: The remarkably versatile Chaminade-Julienne (C-J) Eagle was the nation’s top-ranked high school junior when she was recruited by the two-time defending national women’s champion team at the University of Connecticut. She began playing for the UConn Huskies this season.

Plagued by Pain

But it hasn’t always been smooth sailing for Samarie. She had trouble with both her knees during her high school career and played through the pain. At the start of her senior year, she consulted James Klosterman, MD, medical director of the Sports Medicine Center at Good Samaritan North Health Center and orthopedic consultant to C-J.

“Samarie had been fighting knee pain for more than a year. I suspected that her intractable pain might have more to do with how she moved, rather than simply the anatomy of her knee,” explains Dr. Klosterman. “Samarie needed more than conventional physical therapy, so I referred her to one of our athletic trainers, Brett Hoffman, who specializes in a wholistic approach to joint and muscle pain known as Selective Functional Movement Assessment (SFMA).”

Getting to the Real Cause

Brett Hoffman, MS, ATC, CSCS, CES, who has been with Samaritan Sports Medicine Center for four years, was one of the first people in the country to train in an SFMA residency and remains one of only 20. “‘Motion medicine’ is a new thought process,” Brett explains. “We don’t chase the pain. Instead of treating the painful joint, we use highspeed video to look at movement throughout the body. In Samarie’s case, she wasn’t moving properly through the hips and ankles and so was putting too much pressure on her knees.

“We had to retrain Samarie’s brain not to move her body that way,” Brett continues. “The brain thinks in patterns, so we taught Samarie correct movement patterns. We go back to the basics to open up the brain’s pathways to the muscles and then we reinforce these patterns so they stick.”

Samarie worked the program for about six weeks to get ready for Olympic trials and UConn. Brett has briefed Samarie’s new strength and conditioning coach at UConn so Samarie can make a smooth transition and keep up the training that has helped relieve her knee pain. “I’ve dreamed of playing at UConn since I was in fourth grade,” Samarie says, “just like Tamika Williams [a former Chaminade-Julienne star] did.”

Samarie’s parents, Sam and Twanna Walker of West Carrollton, couldn’t be prouder of their superstar daughter. Well, maybe one person is prouder – Sam, Jr., Samarie’s 5-year-old brother. “He’s already playing ball,” says his dad.

More to Movement Than Meets the Eye

Dr. Klosterman and Samarie
Samarie goes easy on her doctor, orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Klosterman.

Even the slightest body movement depends on information passing back and forth between the brain, spinal cord and muscles. When any aspect of “movement mechanics” – posture, strength, flexibility or balance – is off kilter, the body is susceptible to injury and pain. Selective Functional Movement Assessment (SFMA) looks at fundamental movements such as bending and squatting and can identify patterns and asymmetries that, although seemingly unrelated to the main complaint, are actually contributing to the person’s pain and discomfort.

Good Samaritan Sports Medicine uses sophisticated video technology and software to analyze movement and compare performance over time. Video feedback enables the person to see exactly how his or her muscles move versus what movement should look like and, most important, feel like. By making this connection, a person is able to retrain his or her brain to establish movement patterns for optimal performance and safety.

Targeted therapy and exercise can retrain troublesome muscles to move differently. A certified athletic trainer familiar in administering movement assessments can track the person’s progress as proper movement is restored and strength is enhanced.

To schedule a Selective Functional Movement Assessment, call (937) 734-5720.

<< Samaritan HealthTalk Fall 2010