Lance Reesor

November Comeback Athlete of the Month 2018

Our Comeback Athletes are individuals that have had an injury, gone through the necessary recovery and have 'comeback' to play sports again. They have utilized one of our AMP physicians: Dr. Bentley, Dr. Elliott, Dr. Klepps, Dr. Phipps or Dr. Shenton, and used one of AMP's owning partners for some or all of their procedures or recovery: St. Vincent Healthcare, Ortho Montana and Yellowstone Surgery Center.


Injury: Global Knee Ligament Injury - Torn ACL & PCL (complete knee dislocation)
Injury Date: 1995 in Missoula, MT while attending college
Hometown: Lewstown, MT
Doctors:Dr. Shenton


Almost 23 years ago...
Lance Reesor was 18 and a freshman at University of Montana. It was December and he was goofing around with a bunch of friends, when one of them jumped up on his back for a piggy back ride. As they ran and tried to catch up to the dorm door being open, Lance tripped. He went down and with the weight of an additional person on his back, led to the injury that changed the course of his life.

The sort of injury that happens in car accidents and football games...
Lance’s leg went straight out in front, and with the extra weight on top of him, his knee completely dislocated. Although his friends thought his leg was broken, he didn’t think it was, but he knew something wasn’t right. Lance had reached behind his knee and felt a bump the size of a softball.

Turned out that softball was the bottom of his femur bone. Under that pressure, his femur dislocated and went behind the top of his tibia, which resulted in the tearing of both his Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) and Posterior Cruciate Ligament (PCL).

On to the hospital...
Lance was loaded up and taken to the hospital. They put his femur and tibia joint back in place. Because the tibial artery runs behind the knee, the hospital staff ran scopes down his thigh to ensure that the hadn’t torn any arteries.

On to an orthopedic surgeon...
Days later, Lance visited an orthopedic doctor in Missoula. Lance was an incredibly active young man, so his dad questioned the doctor about what he expect long term. The doctor stated that Lance would never be able to squat down into a catcher’s stance ever again, and would walk with a limp for the rest of his life.

They were totally and completely shocked. Lance’s dad was adamant about not letting this doctor be the surgeon to work on his son. So he started looking around for surgeons who had experience with this type of injury.

Referred to Dr. Shenton, the doctor with the most experience...
Lance’s dad got connected with Dr. David Shenton, located in Billings. Dr. Shenton was shown Lance’s MRI and was asked if he had ever worked on an injury like Lance had. While most of the surgeons Lance’s dad spoke with had worked on zero to one similar cases, Dr. Shenton had done five or six at that time. It was the most experience in this particular injury than any other surgeon that they had been in contact with. It was decided, Dr. Shenton would be the guy who would help Lance to be active again.

The surgery...
During Lance’s winter break from his freshman year at college, Lance and his family traveled to Billings to have both his ACL and PCL repaired with cadaver ligaments. While having his knee scoped, Dr. Shenton looked for other damage. Surprisingly Lance didn’t have really any torn cartilage and no tears in the meniscus. Always the optimist and with full trust in Dr. Shenton, Lance went into surgery, knowing it would be fixed and he would go from there. He never thought otherwise. “Dr. Shenton did a great job. I can’t thank him enough.”

The recovery in Billings...
After a week of recovery from the surgery, and for the remainder of his winter break, Lance visited Billings for physical therapy. He traveled the 2 hour one-way trip from Lewistown twice a week for physical therapy, and eventually was able to visit once a week for his therapy.

The recovery back in school in Missoula...
Once winter break was over, Lance continued his physical therapy in Missoula. He met with his physical therapist 2-3 times a week, and really started to enjoy it. He was told right away that it would be a year before he could play basketball, football or anything like that. Always wanting to be active, Lance asked what ‘could’ he do. They told him he could mountain bike. So Lance became a hard-core mountain biker.

Lance started to really enjoy rehab...
Lance biked everywhere, including to his PT appointments, which he would use as his warm-up. He worked hard while at his appointments, then used what was available to him on campus. He did exercises in the stairwell in the dorm. He did weights in the college weight room. He worked hard and was excited to be active.

Right at a year, he started playing intramural basketball, football and softball with a brace. He did absolutely anything and everything that he wanted. Lance water skied, did downhill skiing, and even spent six years fighting fires as a summer job.

His injury led him to the path to become a Physical Therapist...
Lance and his wife talk about it a lot, how everything happens for a reason. And looking back, although he wouldn’t want to go through all of that again, he knows that this injury steered him on the path he is on today.

Prior to the global knee injury, he didn’t know what he wanted to do with his life. He started out with Environmental Engineer as his major, although not really knowing what it was, but assumed it would allow him to be outside. He then decided on accounting, and then wanted to be a basketball coach and history teacher.

All those physical therapy sessions exposed him to something he had never really thought about before, and had decided that maybe that was the direction he wanted to go in. It was a career he could still do in Montana, and could do in a small town. He changed his major to Health and Human Performance with an emphasis in Exercise Science, and then onto Pre-Physical Therapy.

His schooling made him realize just how lucky he was...
When the accident happened, Lance admits he was young enough and didn’t know enough, to realize just how severe the injury could have been. He believes that some of that information may have been told to his dad, but his dad protected Lance from it. It wasn’t until Lance’s schooling and in his anatomy classes, did he realize just how lucky he was with his injury. To have his knee hyperextend that far, and to have that much pressure go up the backside of his knee could’ve torn the tibial artery, which could have led to amputation. There could’ve been nerve damage, which could have created ‘foot drop.’ “I was so lucky that neither of those things happened.”

A Dr. Shenton follow-up...
Many years later, after landing wrong during an adult league basketball game, he asked Dr. Shenton to look at his knee. After a X-Ray, Dr. Shenton commented that there was no arthritis in his knee, stating it was amazing for how complex Lance’s injury had been and considering how active he’d been on it. Even the cartilage looked great.

Lance wishes he could visit that original doctor in Missoula and show him after 23 years he can squat down on his heels and can do whatever physical activity he wants to do. He has no limp and has never had any complications.

Now the owner and operator of Big Horn Physical Therapy and Sports Medicine...
Lance graduated physical therapy school in 2002, and has worked in Havre, Great Falls and over the years has continued to run into Dr. Shenton and has been able to work on his patients. In 2011, Lance was able to come back to his hometown of Lewistown and raise his family. In July 2017, this father of three boys, jokes that he had a bit of a mid-life crisis and started his own physical therapy and sports medicine practice. Business has been very busy and very good. Everything is starting to come full circle. Yet, all these years later, he’s still never had a patient with the injury that led him on this path all those years ago.

Big Horn Physical Therapy and Sports Medicine
120 Wunderlin St.
Suite 1
Lewistown, MT 59457
P: 406.535.5001

Photo Credit: Alsa Photography

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