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North Oconee High School Senior Carter Couch Named Athlete of the Month by Piedmont Athens Regional

Athens, Ga. (Sept. 20, 2022) — The Sports Medicine department at Piedmont Athens Regional Medical Center announced that Carter Couch, a senior at North Oconee High School, has been named Athlete of the Month. This is a program that honors one student athlete each month for showing perseverance through an athletic injury or medical illness, on or off the field.

Couch, a football player at North Oconee, suffered a left anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tear, a lateral collateral ligament (LCL tear), a posterolateral corner (PLC) injury, and a biceps femoris tendon avulsion, specifically a fibular head avulsion, and required two surgeries to stabilize and repair his extensive injuries. Following his first surgery in July 2021, he was not allowed to put weight on his left leg for six weeks. During that time, his physical therapy team worked with him to keep his upper body, core and uninjured leg strong. Following his second surgery in October 2021, Couch returned to rehabilitation, determined to work hard and be cleared to play football in his senior year.

"Carter was always compliant with home exercises and was always ready for progression with his rehab," said Justin Stewart, a physical therapist at Piedmont Athens Regional’s Orthopedic Sports Medicine. "Even with such extensive injuries and two surgeries, Carter regained strength in his leg within three to four months, a milestone that takes most patients at least six months to achieve. In August [2022], he was medically cleared to play in the season’s opening football game against the county rival."

The ACL is one of four ligaments that connect the thigh bone to the shin bone and helps stabilize the knee joint. An ACL injury or tear commonly occurs after twisting or overextending the knee. An LCL tear impacts the band of tissue located on the outside of the knee and connects the lower leg bone to the thigh bone. The PLC is a part of the knee consisting of numerous muscles, tendons, and ligaments, including the LCL, and tissues that stabilize and support the outside and back of the knee to prevent it from turning outward too much. An avulsion of the biceps femoris tendon occurs when the tendon tears away from the bone, taking a piece of bone with it.  

Couch’s first surgery stabilized the PLC and addressed the fibular head avulsion fracture. The second surgery was performed three months later to reconstruct the ACL.  

The Orthopedic Sports Medicine team at Piedmont Athens Regional established the Athlete of the Month program to recognize hard-working student athletes in the area.

"The athletes we work with are truly amazing and have to overcome so much in order to play sports again after an injury or illness," said Katie Terrell, athletic trainer and outreach coordinator for the hospital’s sports medicine program. "The award was developed to celebrate their hard work in our sports medicine rehab program. Each month, we focus on one high school and meet as a committee, which includes the school’s athletic director, other members of their team and members of the athletic training program."

As the Athlete of the Month, Couch received a certificate and is featured in the Orthopedic Sports Medicine facility located on Piedmont’s Oconee Health Campus in Watkinsville, Ga.

For more information about services offered by Piedmont Physicians Orthopedic Sports Medicine of Athens click here

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