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TRIA Orthopeadic Center Bloomington

Tessa’s Story


Tessa was driving her four wheeler about 45 mph in a ditch near her cabin in South Dakota when the unexpected happened. She hit a dirt approach which flipped the four wheeler on top of her. The four wheeler flipped again and quickly threw Tessa over 60 feet. She was all alone but somehow managed to flag down a car on the road who quickly called 911. Tessa was rushed to the hospital, only to be transferred to another for multiple surgeries within the next few days. After surgery, Tessa spent five days in intensive care and a week at the in-house rehab. 

Her femur was chipped and broken in half, the ball in her shoulder joint was broken, and a small bone behind her collar bone was broken as well. With such severe injuries, doctors told Tessa she may never get full range of motion back.

She was quickly referred to Dr. Marc Swiontkowski at TRIA for her shoulder and leg injuries. Along with Dr. Swiontkowski, Tessa has worked closely with physical therapists Stacy Markert, Allison Palmsten and athletic trainer Chris Walker for rehabilitation over the past year. Together, they’re working on building muscle and getting full range of motion back in her shoulder.

“Everything at TRIA has been better than expected,” said Tessa. “They are always so accommodating. There has been times where my schedule or theirs has conflicted but they are always able to work around it.”

She went on to say that, “everyone here is easy to work with. They actually listen to me and my goals and help me work towards them.”

Last week, Tessa hopped back on her four wheeler for the first time since the accident. Her accident happened on August 12 last year so she wanted to get back onto her four wheeler before that date in 2018. She is still looking forward to getting back to the things she loves like shooting a basketball, hunting, golfing and swimming. Tessa is extremely optimistic that she will make this all happen in the near future.

“It’s the positive atmosphere at TRIA that makes you want to keep coming and never miss a week of rehab,” Tessa said. “I didn’t always feel the same sense of positivity in the hospital rehab. So I wanted to make sure that whoever I was spending an hour with every week had a positive attitude. And everyone here has shown me that.”

“I always know my Wednesday mornings are going to start well,” said athletic trainer, Chris Walker. “We have a good time and push each other. Tessa doesn’t quit. If I say let’s do three sets, she tells me she can do four and that is a huge testament to her willpower to get better.”

“Tessa has made amazing progress over the past year,” said physical therapist, Allison Palmsten. “She has kept a positive attitude throughout her rehabilitation and I never doubted that Tessa would recover full function in her arm and leg.”

Since the beginning of her time at TRIA, Tessa has been working towards a very important goal – to be able to dance at her wedding “I want to raise my hands above my head and dance without having to quit because my hip hurts,” said Tessa. The wedding is in October so she has a few more months to build up the strength and mobility but she is ready to dance!

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