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Aug 22, 2023

Teamwork, communication, compassion and care keys to Davenport West’s Kelsie Hearne’s return to play

Army-trained nurse Jessica Hearne paused, then set the umbrella protecting her from the summer sun to the side.

A smile of relief crossed her face.

“They (Rock Valley Physical Therapy’s certified athletic trainers) handled it tremendously. I was…,’’ said Hearne, a 24-karat good-soul type, stopping in mid-sentence to grab her phone and set it to “video,’’  then hollering  – rather politely for a high school softball game –  “Come on, Lou,’’ to the gifted high school freshman standing in the batter’s box.

“She was into the song “Skip to my Lou,’’ when she was little and the nickname came from that,’’ Jessica Hearne said, going silent as the first pitch of her daughter, Kelsie Hearne’s at-bat arrived.

On this July day, Kelsie Hearne and her Davenport (Iowa) West High Falcons were battling the RiverQueens from Clinton (Iowa) High School in a varsity prep doubleheader.

After suffering a concussion just weeks prior on a bad-hop grounder, the standout softball player was back, playing third base, helping her club to what would be on this day, a doubleheader sweep.

In her first at-bat of the game, the gifted young softballer worked the count full – three balls and two strikes – then laced a liner that was caught by the opposing shortstop, though the hard-hit, sinking liner, was actually trapped.

“Next time, Lou,’’ Jessica Hearne said, just before returning to her original thought, still without her umbrella.

“I cannot say enough about how informed I was with every step in the process,’’ she added.  “From the call to tell me what had happened, through the protocol in determining the injury Kelsie suffered, then the steps regarding treatment and her return-to–play, every base, with a great sense of care, was covered. I was super-impressed with how thorough Rock Valley (Physical Therapy’s) trainers were from beginning to end. And even now, a few weeks later.’’

In early June of 2023, Rock Valley Physical Therapy’s Jessica Rummery, MS, LAT, ATC, and Mallory Reiber, ATC, LAT, PTA, received a message from Kaelene Kragenbrink- Voorhees ATC, LAT, CES, FMS, Rock Valley Physical Therapy’s Regional Coordinator of Athletic Training Services/ Quad Cities Region. 

Michelle Lillis, the West High athletic director, had contacted Kragenbrink-Voorhees regarding an athlete suffering an injury at softball practice shortly before the call. The trio of Rummery, Reiber and Kragenbrink-Voorhees, immediately went to work, attending to Kelsie Hearne remotely, using SWAY technology, incorporated by Rock Valley Physical Therapy.

SWAY combines objective balance measures using accelerometers and sensors that are already built into mobile devices as well as cognitive measures to support healthcare professionals in performing accurate and informed evaluations using an athlete’s own mobile device. Rummery was able to conduct a facetime phone call to evaluate for facial injuries and provide education to the athlete, parents, and coaches. 

After clinical diagnosis was made, a symptom assessment was performed daily for the first three days via Kelsie Hearne’s mobile device. The athlete, parents, coaches, and athletic trainers managing the case formed a group chat. 

Reiber then checked on Kelsie Hearne via group chat and the SWAY app, then she (twice) and Rummery (once) conducted in-person testing in the following days.

No stone was left unturned.

“When it comes to concussion, we have positioned ourselves to provide quick and proficient care to all of our athletes regardless of whether or not we are physically present,’’ said Rummery. “The effort was truly an act of teamwork and technology. We worked together to get the athlete the best care we could from the initial facetime evaluation, SWAY concussion test, group communication with parents and coaches, to the follow up with Kelsie each step of her recovery and return-to-play.’’

Once Kelsie Hearne’s symptoms improved, she was started on a progressive return-to-play protocol. She completed virtual-symptoms checks every other day and then completed a final post-injury test before returning to practice. From injury-to-return, Kelsie Hearne’s case took approximately eight days with zero setbacks. 

“Never in the dark about anything,’’ Jessica Hearne said of the process, noting her family was preparing for a move to Florida at the time and life was a bit hectic. “I had all this information to work from. It helped that I have a (medical) background, but we were never without information. I think she missed four games. It was a great way of utilizing the resources and technology with the personal side. Everyone involved was great.’’

Both Reiber and Rummery have high praise for Jessica Hearne as a caring, informed and understanding parent, while praising Kelsie Hearne as an understanding athlete who was willing to do all that was asked of her to properly return-to-play.

“Awesome teamwork really made this happen,’’ said Reiber, who like Rummery, is filled with care, compassion and is dedicated to the Rock Valley way of “Making Better Lives. “Jess filled me in all things after the initial injury, which really helped set our pace with the return-to-play progression. After talking with Kelsie’s coaches and mom, Jessica, I gathered that Kelsie was a very determined athlete and was on top of each phase of the return-to-sport progression which makes the process so much easier. Both Kelsie and Jessica were truly great to work with and I’m happy that we got to help Kelsie get back on the field.’’

Teamwork. Dedication. Care. Compassion. A winning combination.

By: Johnny Marx, Storyteller