Children's Hospital Colorado

Cole: Getting on the Right Recovery Track

Cole Jones’s opponent had his left arm wrenched behind his back when Cole felt something pop. The pain was sharp, insistent. He rode it out — only about 20 seconds remained in the wrestling match. Later that night, though, the pain still hadn’t abated.

“I was hoping I would feel better in the morning,” he says. He didn’t.

So the next day before practice, he went to see Matt Brewer, the Children’s Hospital Colorado Athletic Trainer who works at his school. Often an integral on-site component of school athletics programs, athletic trainers are healthcare providers specially trained in injury prevention, diagnosis, emergency care and rehabilitation in athletes.

Matt holds a master’s degree in Exercise Physiology from the University of Northern Colorado and, like all athletic trainers, has completed rigorous certification and continuing education requirements.

Beginning the recovery process

“He was in a lot of pain,” says Matt. “There wasn’t much we could do with Cole that first day. Over the next couple of days, his pain decreased and we were able to start him on some range-of-motion exercises, but he didn’t really improve.”

Matt was growing concerned about the possibility that Cole had a more serious injury than initially suspected. He called Cole’s mother, Heidi, to recommend he see his primary care doctor. “We went to see his regular physician, and they said it was a sprain and wanted Cole to go right to physical therapy,” Heidi recalls.

As the on-site athletic trainer, Matt works with Cole every day. That close vantage allowed him intimate insight into the assessment of Cole’s injury and his recovery, a big benefit not only for Cole, but also for all the student-athletes in his care.

Getting a second opinion

“I still felt something was not right,” Matt says. Cole’s condition didn’t improve, and Matt suspected he might have damaged his shoulder joint. So after another conversation with Heidi and another evaluation with Cole, he suggested Cole see pediatric sports medicine specialist Aaron Provance, M.D., at Children’s Colorado’s Sports Medicine Center.

Dr. Provance ordered an MRI and found the root of Cole’s problem: a very severe rotator cuff sprain. That diagnosis helped Matt and Dr. Provance develop a rehabilitation plan specifically targeted to Cole’s injury. He’s still working with Matt, in addition to physical therapy at Children’s Colorado’s Outpatient Specialty Care Clinic in Parker, and doing very well.

“Cole loves athletics — if he had messed up his shoulder more, it would have been so sad for him,” says Heidi. “We just feel really taken care of with Matt.”

Children’s Colorado sponsors 22 athletic trainers, like Matt, across the state of Colorado. Learn more about the role of athletic trainers and why they are essential to the safety of athletes.