Author Archives: ahall1220

Age As a Factor For Difference In Graft Type Used In ACLR Surgery

DEMOREST — It’s well-known that knee injuries are more common in female athletes than with male athletes, as are knee surgeries. Erica Balkum, a senior health science major and volleyball player, wanted to discover what types of anterior cruciate reconstruction (ACLR) surgery might work best.

“I particularly studied the difference between autografts and allografts used for anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction surgery, and how these differences may affect surgeons choosing a specific graft type for certain age groups,” she said.

As a volleyball player Balkum spends hours in the training room, but not for the reason one might think. She gains experience working with athletes to build knowledge for her future profession as a physician assistant in orthopedics. She will see many ACLR surgeries and assist the orthopedic surgeon in procedures. At the 2020 Piedmont Symposium, Erica gave her virtual speech on “Age As a Factor For Difference In Graft Type Used In ACLR Surgery.”

“I chose my topic because of my interest in sports medicine, specifically the surgical aspect,” she said.

Looking at young, mid-aged, and older patients she was able to evaluate her hypotheses. One being confirmed and another was opposed.

“There would be no difference in graft type used by the age group,” said Balkum.

There are two common types of ACLR surgeries. Allografts uses grafts from a cadaver, while autografts use the middle-third of the patient’s tendon. Discovering that 71% of patients used allografts despite previous readings stating they were inferior to autografts, she was surprised when doing her research. The allografts used in her study had been through new and alternative sterilization process, allowing the graft type to be highlighted and eliminate the disadvantages.

Physical therapist Chris Olsen was not surprised by the findings. “There is not a huge difference in healing and the outcomes of each were essentially the same.”

Dealing mostly with allograft, which is a cadaver graft, and autograft, a bone-tendon-bone harvest, he stated that most doctors he works with in Tampa, Florida only use those types.

“Age is the most important in recovery. Teens heal quicker than those over thirty years old,” he said. “Also overall health and fitness level are big factors in healing, usually less unfit people with lower muscle mass have a slower healing process, and those with more muscle mass have a quicker healing process.”

Compliance with the physical therapy and home exercise programs also play a huge role in the six-month recovery. People who do the work get better quicker, right?

“Basically I learned that my current findings showcased how the medical world and certain methods and techniques, are constantly evolving,” said Balkum. “The improvements allow for previously frowned upon concepts, in this case allografts, to sometimes surpass their counterparts (autografts), in both efficiency and practicality.”

Assistant Coach Rachel Selmore

Demorest — Piedmont College assistant volleyball coach Rachel Selmore is worried about more than a ring. 

“Division 3 volleyball is Division 3 volleyball, and I care more about my players being successful in the real world than them having a ring for volleyball,” said Selmore. 

As an assistant coach, Selmore is responsible for meals, hotels, gear and making practice plans with head coach Jamie McCormack. Out of season she recruits players for the program. 

“The team is what makes me smile everyday,” she said. “If you’re not on the bus, you are missing out.”

Selmore gets to know her players even more when traveling to games and is able to coach better because of it. 

“I like watching the girls figure out how the stuff we are doing on the court can mix with our lives, and it’s not as hard to be an adult as everyone thought it was,” she said. 

Coaching girls in college allows her to take on a “big sister” role and watch freshmen become adults. 

“My goal is to make sure the girls have a good 4 years and to know that even if they transfer, I am still in their corner,” she said. 

Selmore not having a plan post graduation brought her to Piedmont, and she is now going into her fourth season as assistant coach. 

Although she loves her job, there is one thing Selmore can’t stand about her role on the team. 

“I hate not being in season.”

Spring season begins in March. 

Alyssa Hall: About Myself (obviously)

Hi, my name is Alyssa Hall. My life started out when I born on December 20, 2000 to my parents in Tampa, Florida. On that day I became their second child, joining my older brother and we have been best friends ever since. Today my brother, Trey, is 21 years old and everything I possibly could have hoped for in a sibling, even though sometimes we want to kill each other.

My parents have always made sure we lived an active lifestyle and participate in all things outdoors. Living on the West coast of Florida my whole life I had no choice but to love anything involving the ocean. As a family we spend most weekends on the boat fishing, spearfishing, and anything else you possibly name. From age 2 to 12 I played soccer, but quit because I finally wanted to play a different sport than my brother. This is when I was introduced to volleyball, due to myself being vertically inclined.

My volleyball career really took off in high school at Nature Coast Technical where I played for 4 years. In addition to high school volleyball, I also played club ball at one of the largest clubs, OTVA. There I had many coaches who shaped me into the player I am today and led my decision to continue playing at Piedmont College. I visited and later committed to play here in the last semester of my senior year. Fast forward to now, I have met some of my best friends and could not imagine them not being in my life.

As for my future, I plan to transfer most likely after 2 years at Piedmont and continue getting a degree in Mass Communications at the University of Florida or University of South Florida. I am very excited to see where my life leads me and what I end up doing with my degree.