Adam McClellan is an über-fit 26-year-old. His passion for parkour – a military-inspired, obstacle course fitness discipline – led to a career as owner and senior coach at Parkour Generations Lehigh Valley. He jumps, climbs and tumbles for a living. So in March 2017 when the patellar tendon of his left knee ruptured while exercising, McClellan’s parkour came to a halt.
At the ER, X-rays and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans showed he needed surgery to reattach the patellar tendon between his kneecap and tibia, or shin bone.
“It was a freak accident that can happen to even the highest level athlete,” says board-certified orthopedic surgeon Gabe Lewullis, MD, with LVPG Orthopedics and Sports Medicine. “But with the right surgery and rehab, you can get back to an active life.”
The art of restoring a displaced tendon
Two days after the accident, McClellan was in surgery – the first obstacle he had to overcome on his way to recovery. Lewullis reattached the tendon in a procedure that took place at LVHN–Tilghman.
“After surgery, the knee must be in an immobilizer for four to six weeks,” Lewullis says. Then McClellan faced the final barrier: rehab. Physical therapist Elizabeth Larsen coached McClellan through that part of his recovery.
When McClellan arrived for physical therapy wearing a knee brace, he mentioned that he thought it was “pretty cool,” reminiscent of Iron Man. That became his nickname through rehab. He lived up to it.
“We started out on range of motion,” Larsen says, “working to get the knee to bend.” Before his time with Larsen was over, McClellan was riding a bike without trouble.
Returning to parkour
“Adam flew through rehab,” Larsen says of McClellan. “He made it look easy. The biggest problem was getting him to slow down.”
McClellan credits Lewullis and Larsen for his recovery.
“My surgeon, Dr. Lewullis, was excellent, Beth was excellent,” he says. “I have a little more strength to regain, but the range of motion is all back.”
And parkour? Yes, McClellan is back to that too – teaching, dashing, tumbling and vaulting.
– Laurie Harrington