For as long as she can remember, Therese Caffrey has run. As a seven-year-old, she witnessed the thrill of competition when her parents coached the track team at the local elementary school. As a teen, she ran varsity track, earning a spot in her high school’s Hall of Fame. Therese logged more miles at Rutgers University where she competed in Division I cross country and 3000-meter events.
After 21 years as a runner, Therese, 38, is no stranger to injury, treatment, and physical therapy, having suffered and recovered from a range of runner’s ailments, including stress fractures and various strains and pulls.
Post-college, Therese ran for fitness through the parks and streets of New York City until the urge to compete struck again and she joined the Central Park Track Club, a group formed for runners looking to prepare for national and international competitions in track and field and long distance running. When she wasn’t working at her job in environmental health and safety at Pfizer, Inc., Therese was training and running faster and better than ever. She took first place in the 2008 and 2009 in the 3000-meter competition at the USA Masters Indoor Track & Field Championships.
“It was right after winning last March that I began to feel like something wasn’t right in my hip,” recalls Therese. First it felt as though something was catching, then it seemed as if the catching had turned to grinding. “I went for a run and suddenly I could barely walk,” Therese recalls.
Therese sought help from Dr. Struan Coleman at the Center for Hip Preservation at Hospital for Special Surgery. An MRI showed a labral tear, impingement in her right hip joint, and problems with her psoas tendon.
In early June she underwent surgery, during which Dr. Coleman repaired the labral tear, eased the impingement, and released the psoas tendon arthroscopically. “I could tell immediately that the pain was gone,” says Therese. Within a week she had started physical therapy, stretching and performing core strengthening with her therapist, Diana Zotos.
Diana Zotos, PT, CSCS, is pictured performing a physical therapy technique on Therese's hip after surgery. She applies gentle pressure to provide a stretch and help the patient retain normal alignment. Ultimately, this technique allows her to move, walk, and perform exercises with less - if any - pain.
“Therese was highly motivated and very persistent,” says Diana. “She had been through rehab for other injuries, so she fully understood what was required of her. She gave 120 percent.”
Patient and therapist teamed up to develop a therapy routine that would facilitate her recovery and get her where she wanted to be as quickly as possible. “Diana was very helpful in reminding me to not try to do too much too soon,” says Therese. At the same time, the two worked together to strengthen her core, restore her range of motion, and re-establish her ability to make fast, powerful movements.
Three months following her surgery, Therese was working out on the elliptical machine, bike, and treadmill. Following completion of rehabilitation, Therese resumed training and racing, and recently broke her personal best time in both the 1500 and 3,000 meter competitions.
“I’ve had injuries and been in rehab many times,” says Therese. “The experience I’ve had at HSS with such a gifted and skilled group of trainers and physical therapists is remarkable. Now I’m telling all my running friends not to wait to get treated, to go and get the kind of help they need.”