Jiu-jitsu Athlete Competes in the Match of His Life

JiujitsuBack mount, sweep and throw may sound like another language, but athlete Luke Josephine use these moves to takedown opponents in the Brazilian sport of jiu-jitsu. He’s come out on top in his five-year career, most recently winning gold in the 2013 Kozen KC Grappling Open.

In any sport, injuries can be a more formidable obstacle than an opponent. Luke’s injury came during routine training in August 2013 when he suffered whiplash to his neck. “My neck felt stiff, and I had trouble moving it,” he remembers. “When I woke up the next day, I had pain in my left arm and fingers.”

At the young age of 26, Luke couldn’t even will his body to do a basic push up, much less dead lift 585 pounds, part of his regular training regime.

A visit to Neurosurgeon Steven Reintjes, MD, and results of an MRI revealed two bulging disks and a herniated disk. With pain and no strength in his arm muscles, Luke wondered if he could function normally much less return to jiu-jitsu competitions.

Dr. Reintjes recommended starting conservatively with physical therapy, instead of surgery. Luke teamed up with Jason Calder, a physical therapist, and they started to work.

Jason explains that staff in the Hospital’s Outpatient Therapy Clinic can tailor treatments to meet a patient’s needs. He knew that Luke’s goal was to return to the sport he loves, a full contact sport requiring high levels of strength and mobility.

Six weeks of therapy started with basic activities to facilitate healing and healthy nerve function and progressed to standard strength and range of motion to more dynamic strength training and mobility.

Luke Josephine“It’s not often that I am shadow boxing and putting a patient into a headlock,” laughs Jason, “but Luke offered a chance for more creative treatments to achieve his goals. We did get some curious looks.”

Luke describes Jason as “fantastic” in the way he related to him and personalized his care. “He believed in me and didn’t think I would need surgery.”

Luke is back in the gym at KC Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu in Mission, Kan., practicing and working to get his strength back. He also is busy studying for a physician’s assistant degree at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

Jiu-Jitsu Athlete Competes in the Match of His Life