By Annette Pauline Gomes Warrior Care and TransitionFebruary 8, 2019
Capt. Casey Turner: The comeback kid
By Annette Pauline Gomes Warrior Care and Transition
ARLINGTON, Va. - U.S. Army Capt. Casey Turner didn't have to look very far when deciding on a career, the blueprint was already laid out for her.
"I grew up with this overwhelming sense of patriotism, American spirit, and desire to serve. My father retired from the Navy, as well as, my maternal grandfather. My paternal grandfather was in the Army and my brother now serves in the Air Force," Turner said. "My brothers and I were raised to give back to the country and community that has done so much for us. As a physical therapist, I thought I had skills that could help serve our nation's tactical athletes and return them to the fight," she added.
In 2017, returning to the fight got even more real for Casey because she would be the one in need of physical therapy after sustaining a right knee injury [as she exited a light medium tactical vehicle] and a torn anterior cruciate ligament. She would endure two surgeries. During this process, Casey learned the value of taking care of herself.
"The drive to take care of myself is really about setting an example for the Soldiers and patients I care for on a daily basis. It's hard to sit on the stool across from a patient and ask them to do things that I wouldn't do myself," Turner explained. "In order to do my job, I have to be physically intact and able to function at the highest level which requires me doing my own rehab to allow my body to heal," Turner added.
Turner recovered from her injury at the Warrior Transition Battalion, Fort Bragg, North Carolina, but her patients were never far from her mind. While at the WTB, Turner felt that the Soldiers there could benefit from chronic pain management, specifically pain neuroscience. This was something she believed she could help with." I was hoping that my expertise and experience in treating veterans would translate to the Soldiers and potentially assist in their transition to civilian life with regard to understanding their pain and how to manage their symptoms, but still function optimally."
She began teaching a pain management class at the WTB and was accepted into the Col. Douglas Kersey Advanced Clinical Practice Course at Fort Sam Houston, Texas. The course is a continuing education course that helps Department of Defense physical therapists provide the highest level of evidence-based care to injured Soldiers and Veterans while simultaneously trying to prevent these injures from occurring. In addition to beginning and teaching a pain management class, the avid athlete developed a love for adaptive reconditioning sports as she recovered from her knee injury, particularly cycling and archery.
"Here at the WTB we are exposed to innumerable activities that I have never participated in and each of these are available in an adaptive fashion so it's been a great change of pace for me," Turner said. "The biggest thing I've learned is regardless of where the WTB transitions you, whether returning to duty or into civilian life, the Army is full of endless opportunities if you make the effort to seek them and invest time in them."
In November of 2018, Turner participated in the Pacific Regional Trials at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii. She won 10 gold medals in cycling, swimming, wheelchair racing, field, rowing and two silver medals in powerlifting and rowing. She's hoping to have more success at the 2019 Army Trials this March at Fort Bliss, Texas.
"I am thrilled to have the opportunity to participate in the Army Trials, especially since I will be doing it from an even more adapted perspective compared to the Pacific Regional Trials. My recent surgery on December 19th has completely altered my physical abilities so it will be great to focus on more adaptive events and meet participants going through the same process as me. There is life after injury," said Turner.