A Winning Strategy

Covenant Health Therapy Center – Lenoir City gets retired coach back on his feet

With knees slightly bent and fists raised, Richard Reynolds punches the air while standing on a piece of equipment that tests his stability.

“Just because it’s hard, that’s no reason not to try it,” he says.

Reynolds began physical therapy at Covenant Health Therapy Center – Lenoir City in August 2022. At the time, he was in a wheelchair and unable to walk independently.

Nerve damage in Reynolds’ spine caused him to lose the use of his left leg. Accepting the idea that he might be in a wheelchair for the rest of his life, he still held out hope that someday he could get back on his feet.

“The goal was to get up and be as vertical as I could and be as mobile as possible, Reynolds says, “and then be able to drive.”

Richard Reynolds gives his all in a physical therapy appointment.

Since then, Reynolds has graduated from a wheelchair to a walker and from a walker to a cane. Today he moves through some of his physical therapy exercises without assistance.

“And I drove here today,” he adds.

Covenant Health Therapy Center – Lenoir City is in the business of rebuilding hope, using skilled care to motivate patients, and helping them find new strength to work for a restored quality of life.

“That’s our goal for every patient,” says Renee Wilson, a Physical Therapist Assistant who has worked extensively with Reynolds, “to get back to that same quality of life that they enjoyed before the injury.”

Personalized Physical Therapy

Far from a one-size-fits-all approach, Covenant Health Therapy Center – Lenoir City focuses on creating an individualized plan for each patient. That means tailoring the physical therapy to the patient’s lifestyle and skill set.

Reynolds is a retired educator, high school athletic director and coach, so Wilson says athletics-based exercises have been a key component of his overall treatment plan.

“That’s something he’s good at and has natural proclivities to,” Wilson says. “We use a basketball or a football, and we have sports drills that we can use for functional strengthening.”

As Reynolds is guided through exercises on the equipment at the therapy center, his physical therapist explains that each assignment is strategic.

“The weaker side is the left side, so we use the device on the opposite side,” she says. “That’s broadening his base of support, so whenever he has to support himself on that weaker side, he’s not unstable.”

Wilson works on fine-tuning one thing at a time, then pulls it all together for Reynolds with an activity. The physical therapy is designed to be progressively more challenging, and new goals are always being set to help the patient move out of his comfort zone.

“He keeps smashing those goals, and we keep having to come up with new ones,” Wilson says. “The better he gets, the better our goal writing has to be.”

Renee Wilson, Physical Therapy Assistant works with patient Richard Reynolds.

That’s a challenge Wilson is happy to rise to. “He’s at a very high level from where he was when he first started,” she says. “It’s just amazing to see him come so far.”

Working for the Win

Reynolds tackles physical therapy using a tactic he taught young athletes during his 42 years as a high school coach. He believes an athlete trains best by doing more than what’s expected.

In basketball and football, that might mean one more pushup or one more lap than what’s ordered. In physical therapy, it can mean something as simple as going an extra step or adding an extra repetition of an exercise.

Reynolds has a winning record against the opponents of pain and limitation. He has undergone four neck surgeries, two surgeries on his lower back, and the replacement of both hips, but he keeps pushing forward to improve his health and fitness.

When he joined forces with Covenant Health physical therapists who were determined to help him reach his goals, a winning team was created.

“They keep me moving. They’ve been patient and encouraging,” Reynolds says. “Renee, Amy, Brian, Pam, Jamie, Ann and Janine have all been exceptional to work with.”

Covenant Health Therapy Center – Lenoir City provides therapies that help patients deal with pain or lack of mobility in the neck, the feet and just about everything in between. Specialty services are available, including occupational and speech therapy.

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