Lewis Hackling is no stranger to injury. The 19 year old Noxen native has been playing hockey with younger brother Hunter since he was only 4 years old. He played for the Little Flyers for 3 years and competes in the Northern State Junior Hockey League. He’s had two serious concussions and just last month he took a puck to the mouth.
When Lewis suffered an injury during a December 2011 game however, he faced a whole new set of challenges. A student at Lake Lehman High School at the time, Lewis played in the 2011 Casey Classic. During the game, Lewis collided with another player and fell. He skated to the bench and then went back out on the ice, but when he tried to turn, his right knee gave way. An MRI revealed that he’d injured his right ACL.
In February 2012, he had surgery to repair his damaged ACL and began physical therapy in the Sports Medicine program at Heinz Rehab in Wilkes-Barre the very next day. After more than a month away from the sport, he was frustrated with his injury. “I wanted to skate the next day, but it just wasn’t going to happen.”
Lewis entered therapy with mixed feelings. He knew other players who had come to Allied Services and been successful, but he worried that he would be away from the game for months on end. “Before I came here, I thought therapy was just somewhere you came to sit and stretch, maybe get a massage.”
He soon discovered that rehabbing from an injury required many of the same traits needed to be a successful hockey player; determination, dedication, drive. His new ‘coaches’, physical therapists Theresa Stook and Mark Rowan, customized his treatment to the demands of his sport, selecting exercises that mimicked the motions hockey players make on the ice.
In addition to the three weekly therapy sessions, Lewis worked out at home, practicing some of the exercises demonstrated in therapy.
“Therapy was like anything that you want to be good at. If you want something, you have to strive for it, put in the extra hours.”
Always the competitive athlete, Lewis pushed back. Once he was strong enough, they took the training outside, running laps of the parking lot. Theresa, who was training for the New York City marathon at the time, remembers struggling to keep up!
The partnership between Lewis and this therapists and their combined dedication to getting him back to full health paid huge dividends for Lewis. By June, he was taking his first tentative steps on the ice. By September he was back to playing competitive hockey.
The doctors said I would be out for 9 months but I was back skating in 6 months. I couldn’t have done it without them. It was hard, but I loved therapy and coming to Heinz.”
Lewis is now a pre-med student at Marywood University. Most nights of the week you can find him at the Coal Street ice rink, practicing alongside Hunter and his Wilkes Barre Miners teammates.