Terry Acomb has been an avid recreational athlete all his life. Residing in Fruita, Colorado, as a geologist, Terry has fully embraced Colorado’s quintessential beauty and natural playground – alpine snowboarding, canyoneering, and hiking – are just a few activities Terry enjoys. Thirty years ago, Terry began to master the sport of rock climbing, and ten years later discovered his true passion for slacklining.
At the time, slacklining was an obscure sport beginning to evolve. The sport involves a rope suspended between two anchor points – the objective – to balance from one end to the other. Constantly seeking new thrills, Terry began to explore the outer limits. Terry, and other members of the slacklining community, began to discover greater heights, and the sport of highlining was born.
Terry’s passion and exploration enabled him to be a pioneer in the highlining community; his innovative development for safe and efficient equipment allowed the sport to evolve. Combining an exhilarating physical rush with utter serenity makes highlining a complete ying-and-yang, and is why Terry has an ever-growing love for the sport. Today, Moab, Utah is the utopia for the sport of highlining.
Back in winter of 2011, Terry started to experience pain in his right shoulder. Not only did his pain restrict him from his love of outdoor sports, but also simple daily activities became restrictive. Terry was suffering from bicep tendonitis. Bicep tendonitis is a very common overuse injury – especially for Terry, who was an avid rock climber for over twenty-five years. Typically, the long head of the bicep tendon becomes inflamed due to repetitive overhead motion, which weakens the shoulder and creates pain.
Devastated about how restrictive the pain made Terry’s life, he was determined to make a change. Living in Colorado, Terry was aware of The Steadman Clinic, and through research discovered Dr. Millett in June 2012. At his first appointment, Terry had an MRI to confirm his injury of bicep tendonitis. Typically, Dr. Millett will start with non-surgical treatment, but Terry’s case was beyond this point and needed surgical treatment. “By this time I was pretty discouraged about the future prospects of this injury.” Terry recalls. “I was so relieved to have an exact diagnosis of the problem, and to also know there was an established surgical technique to remedy the issue and restore my ability to resume my favorite sports.” said Terry.
To repair bicep tendonitis, Dr. Millett uses an arthroscopic surgical technique – biceps tenodesis. Through tiny incisions, Dr. Millett removes the damaged portion of the tendon and reattaches the healthy portion of the tendon to the arm bone. The placement of the tendon is such that it remains out of the way of the shoulder joint to eliminate pain. Biceps function, contour, and strength are all preserved as well.
Following surgery, Terry began a four-month rehab process to regain strength and range of motion in his right shoulder. Feeling confident about returning to the Colorado outdoors, Terry had an unexpected setback. Toward the end of his rehab, Terry began to feel pain in his opposite shoulder! After scheduling an MRI with Dr. Millett, it was confirmed that Terry had developed bicep tendonitis in his left shoulder. Unfortunately, Terry did not respond to non-surgical treatment, and therefore, after completing rehab for his right shoulder, Dr. Millett surgically repaired Terry’s left shoulder in December 2012.
Terry has now completed his four-month rehab program for his left shoulder and is pain free in both shoulders! Terry has finally been able to return to the outdoors, and is reminded everyday of the natural beauty and excitement Colorado offers. Terry is fully functional; he has been working in his yard and planting trees, which is something he has not been able to do since fall of 2011. Most important, Terry has been able to return to his true passion, slacklining. With weight training, Terry has built up his strength for rock climbing and even highlining. With help from Dr. Millett, diligent rehab, and patience Terry Acomb has once again joined opposing forces and balanced his way from one anchor to the next.
All images are copyright Heinz Zak.