When Sone Ntoh, 18, sets a goal, nothing stands in his way. Before starting his senior year at Emmaus High School in 2018, Ntoh’s goal was to play college football at a top university. He trained hard and committed to his studies. What he didn’t prepare for: a devastating knee injury during the second game of his senior season.
“In that moment, I thought my hard work and goals were going to slip away,” says Ntoh, who was the starting running back. “I remember getting back to the training room and just crying.”
On-the-spot support and diagnosis
Ntoh’s season was far from over. Thanks to a partnership between East Penn School District and Lehigh Valley Health Network (LVHN), medical resources were already on the sideline.
Orthopedic surgeon Gabe Lewullis, MD, medical director of sports medicine for Lehigh Valley Health Network (LVHN), quickly diagnosed Ntoh with a sprained medial collateral ligament (MCL), a ligament that stabilizes the inner part of the knee.
“MCL sprains cause a lot of stiffness and tightness, but they usually heal without surgery,” Lewullis says.
Road to recovery
A magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan confirmed the diagnosis and showed no additional injuries, so Lewullis and athletic trainer Elizabeth Del Re got to work developing a recovery and rehabilitation plan. Del Re, who is trained in therapeutic rehabilitation, concentrated on strengthening the muscles surrounding his knee during daily sessions at the teen’s high school athletic training room.
“After training through LVHN’s sports performance program for years, Sone was already fit and strong,” Del Re says. “It didn’t take long to rebuild the surrounding muscles.”
Back in the game
After three weeks of hard work, Ntoh rejoined the lineup. “Daily rehab helped me go from being unable to walk to being back on the field and playing,” he says.
With Ntoh back in action, his team earned a spot in the district final, and he was nominated for Male Athlete of the Year.
More importantly, he achieved his goal and now plays football at Harvard University. “My confidence is completely back,” Ntoh says. “I couldn’t have gotten here without the LVHN sports medicine team.”