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Isabella, leaping in the air with a dance move.

Dance had been a part of Isabella's life since she was 3 years old. At 12, she was looking forward to attending a summer intensive program with the Joffrey Ballet in New York.

But a goal she had worked to achieve her whole life, seemed in jeopardy when she was diagnosed with a hip impingement.

"I was told I would need to have surgery, and was heartbroken," she said upon receiving the diagnosis. "It felt like my legs had been cut off."

A silver lining soon presented itself when a teacher learned of Isabella's injury and referred her to his wife, a physical therapist and a former dancer.

"Not only could she help me and speak to the physical issues of my injury, but also the emotional pain of not being able to perform," Isabella said. "We spoke the same language!"

Thanks to physical therapy, Isabella was able to participate in the Joffrey's summer program before having surgery. After the operation, which entailed pulling apart the femur from the hip socket, shaving down the impingement on the socket side, and repairing the tears in the acetabulum—approximately a 4-hour procedure—Isabella came home to recuperate.

For the next 10 days, she would be relegated to her home and attached to her CPM (constant passive motion) machine to start rebuilding. She continued with active physical therapy to regain her strength and range of motion, a journey that would last for about 1.5 years.

"My rehab was a lengthy process, but one I was happy to embark on," Isabella said. "I watched many other dancers go through this same form of rehab and come out the other side."

Now 15, Isabella is back doing what she loves.

"Without my physical therapist's dedication, her understanding of my injury, and her love for dance, I'm not sure that I would have ever returned to dancing."

Listen to Isabella's story on Move Forward Radio.

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Physical therapists are movement experts who improve quality of life through hands-on care, patient education, and prescribed movement. You can contact a physical therapist directly for an evaluation. To locate a physical therapist in your area, visit Find a PT.

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