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June 17, 2009 > Dr. Chu rehabs scholarship bound athletes

Dr. Chu rehabs scholarship bound athletes

By Jason Barrera

For 37 years Dr. Don Chu has been in practice specializing in orthopedic and physical therapy, serving the East Bay out of Castro Valley. During that time period, Dr. Chu has consistently assisted severely injured athletes rehabilitate from their respective season ending injuries and, in some cases like this past year, help scholarship-bound high school athletes recover to re-achieve their high level of performance.

"The high school athlete, they are young and tend to heal faster," says Dr. Chu. "They are extremely motivated and that makes our job easier because if the athlete is extremely motivated then we are motivated as well."

It is obvious that Dr. Chu's experience with the orthopedics and physical therapy give him a positive edge with regard to the athletes' comfort level of rehabilitating from a serious injury, and trusting Dr. Chu to restore not only an equal or better level of performance, but also an optimistic mindset for the scholarship bound high school student athletes. Yet, even in dealing with such commodities as scholarship athletes, Dr. Chu does not feel there is any added pressure in getting these teenagers back on the field.

"We have pressure with all individuals," explains Dr. Chu. "The idea is that we are aggressive with our treatment and we provide proper treatment. The first step in this process is understanding how the human body works, which is an overall goal of ours.

"The rehabilitation process after a major surgery is extremely important, the whole process is about getting a good result and it takes some understanding," Dr. Chu elaborates. "You have to understand how hard you can push somebody, what you're looking for, the ultimate goal is to make sure (the athlete) does certain things correctly so that they don't blow it out again."

One particular athlete that Dr. Chu rehabilitated over this past school year is Dash Oliver. Oliver, a 2009 Castro Valley High School graduate, received scholarship offers to play football. But after tearing his right ACL and undergoing surgery in the third week of September, Oliver knew his football career took a backseat.

"It was the most devastating thing that I heard in my whole life, I knew that I had to get surgery and rehab," said Oliver. "I was very determined to work my butt off, but I didn't know what to expect because there is a lot of pain involved that you have to go through if you want to accomplish a full rehab.

"My mind was going everywhere because I didn't know how long rehab would take for an ACL," Oliver explained. "I had heard it takes an entire year and I didn't know if I could run track so I pushed myself and remained confident in my abilities."

Oliver's enthusiasm demonstrated to Dr. Chu that the Castro Valley High School standout was prepared and ready to battle through a painful and drawn out process in which Dr. Chu had to examine specific movements of Oliver's knee.

"The whole process in terms of restoring the correct range of motion is the first step," Dr. Chu describes. "Within the dynamic range of motion, we expect that a knee should be able to bend to a certain degree and straighten to a certain degree, sometimes you can get that passively and sometimes you can get it dynamically.

"We had a mutual, definite goal in mind that we wanted to reach, we wanted to Dash to be able to perform," said Dr. Chu. "When Dash blew out his knee, we centered on the process knowing that he wanted to get back to play."

Under the rehabilitation guidance of Dr. Chu, Oliver was able to return to the track for Castro Valley High School.

"The rehabilitation process gave me some drive to really perform the best than I ever have before. I wanted to be better than everybody else," Oliver said. "After my injury and rehab lots of the colleges on the west coast contacted me again after I ran some good times. The most notable colleges being UCLA and Cal."

Despite one of the most overwhelming injuries an athlete can sustain, Oliver was able to exude resiliency and overcome a rough patch in his athletic career. Oliver will be dashing for California as a track runner on a full scholarship beginning in the upcoming fall.

"It's very exciting, I'm very happy to run in my own backyard at such a prestigious school like Cal." Oliver gleamed.

While Oliver continues into an exhilarating stage of his academic and athletic career, Dr. Chu remains in Castro Valley rehabilitating athletes such as Dash, providing them with guidance and physical support that they will carry to be successful for the rest of their careers.

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