Patient Testimonial: A Story of Redemption

Rob Blair’s sport of choice is the closest a man can get to walking on water.

Rob has been an avid water skier since he was six years old. For the grandson of “Banana” George Blair, a well-known record-holder in barefoot waterskiing, waterskiing has always been a family affair. Rob had his own daughters on skis by the age of two. “Banana” George, who earned his nickname from his trademark yellow wetsuits, is part of the American Water Ski Hall of Fame, was named a Water Ski Magazine Icon and earned multiple mentions in the Guinness Book of World Records. George barefoot waterskied on every continent. Rob was able to make several trips with him and earned his own record for barefoot skiing in Antarctica. George waterskied up until he was 92 years old, something Rob wouldn’t mind doing himself.

In the summer of 2015, Rob experienced an injury that would make most people put away the skis for good. He was competing in the USA Waterski Southern Regional Championship in Paducah, Kentucky. During the trick portion of the competition, the water caught his foot the wrong way and he heard a pop and felt tremendous pain. The pain was so intense that Rob actually passed out. The next thing he remembered was being plucked out of the water and taken to the shore. His daughter, Haley, took him to the ER and then helped him make the long drive home. Back in Georgia, he underwent an MRI and got the earliest available appointment at Piedmont Orthopaedic Complex.

Rob’s wife, Crystal, is a radiology technician who has worked at an MRI facility for years.

“You could see the muscle all bunched up,” Crystal said of the results. “I was really worried.”

There are three hamstring tendons that originate at the base of the pelvis, and Rob had torn all three of them off the bone.

As Rob evaluated his treatment options, he considered what kind of life he wanted to lead. Ultimately, he opted to have surgery to repair the tendons rather than letting them heal on their own because repairing them had the greatest potential for him to get back to athletic activity, particularly waterskiing. He wanted, or in his words, he needed, to remain active for as long as possible. He could not give up waterskiing just yet, not by a long shot.

He had surgery with Dr. Ryan DeCoons in the Piedmont Surgery Center in August of 2015. He started rehabilitation therapy with Bradley Huff, ATC immediately afterward. Rob was impressed with how Bradley came up with inventive therapy methods designed with waterskiing in mind. Bradley understood what motivated Rob, and once they tapped into this drive, Rob excelled in therapy and eventually was able to do it on his own. Bradley gave him several articles filled with tips on how to gradually ease back into athletic activity.

It was a grueling process. Physical therapy is never fun. When he finally did get back on the water, he had to proceed with caution, gradually increasing the stress he put on the repaired hamstring tendons.

But it was not long before Rob earned his redemption. Approximately one year after they pulled him out of the water, Rob came back and won the Southern Regional Championship. He ranks in the top 5 men’s skiers in Georgia as well as in the whole Southern Region. The rankings actually shortchange him.  They are compiled by an average of your competitive scores throughout the year, and don’t account for the fact that he was out for several months and had to be conservative initially when he was able to return.

Rob, who sometimes waterskies twice a day, especially enjoys the activity with his family. His daughters also ski competitively and have racked up accolades of their own.

“It’s just good family fun,” Rob said. “For Dr. DeCoons to get me back on the water is a huge deal for our family.”


posted 05/01/2017 in Blog

Tags: waterski, water skier, water skiing, rob blair, ryan decoons, dr deacons, hamstring injury, hamstring surgery


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