Volunteer Firefighter Shows the Fire to Recover from Severe Knee Injury

December 01, 2020

As he ran to the scene of an apartment building fire, 18-year-old volunteer firefighter Richard “Ricky” LaBarre tried slowing down, but ended up tumbling to the ground.

Turns out, Ricky’s left knee bent the wrong way as he ran, severely damaging his medial collateral ligament (MCL) and medial patellofemoral ligament (MPFL).

“I immediately fell down after the injury, but it didn’t hurt at all,” Ricky recalled. “As soon as I stood up, I knew something was wrong.”

Essentially, Ricky’s kneecap had to be reattached. The injury was so painful that, one week later, Ricky attended his high school graduation ceremony in a wheelchair. That experience during a key moment in his life, Ricky said, motivated him to walk again.

After undergoing reconstructive surgery on his left knee, Ricky faced a challenging physical rehabilitation. However, Ricky said he focused on doing whatever it took to get back on his feet unassisted.

‘I Was Motivated To Go’

To get him off the crutches and back to work, Ricky chose Good Shepherd Physical Therapy based on a family member’s recommendation. Within four weeks of starting a steady, customized program of exercises to rebuild his strength and balance at the Schnecksville location, Ricky progressed to needing only one crutch.

When an exercise got “easy” for him, Ricky said he would ask to keep pushing forward — under the safe and expert guidance of his physical therapist. Ricky regularly used one of his many catchphrases (“It will be fine”) to let his therapist know he was good to progress. 

“I was always glad that when I went, it was not an easy thing because that meant I was getting better,” he said. “I was motivated to go. Men my age are among the least likely to go get medical care, but everyone at Good Shepherd made it easy.”

While he is back at the fire station and can walk without assistance, he continues improving his mobility and strength in therapy.

“I’m getting better every day,” he said. “I started being able to jog. I can go fishing with my buddies up and down the canal. I can drive stick again.”

Ricky also has an eye on his future, when he one day plans to open his own business.

“It was a really good experience at Good Shepherd,” Ricky said. “I wouldn’t change a thing.”

If you need help recovering from orthopedic surgery, request an appointment online or call 1-888-44-REHAB.