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Groundbreaking technology helps star athlete get back on his feet

Local athlete faced devastating injury a year ago
Posted at 6:27 PM, Aug 27, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-28 10:04:37-04

OMAHA, Neb. — Like most athletes, Deiondre Rice has been through his fair share of injuries and doctor visits. But this particular injury was different for the Millard South High School student.

"It was just a rush just to like have everything stop. Having just a great summer, working out every day, grinding with your guys, just getting better. And then just having it all come to a screeching halt," he said.

"This is a pretty devastating injury for really any young person but particularly somebody like him who's an explosive athlete with aspirations to play college athletics," Rice's surgeon Dr. Matt Tao said.

During a football practice last year, Rice faced every athlete's nightmare.

"He had both ACL tear, MCL tear in the knee. He also has meniscus tears on both sides," Dr. Tao said.

The athlete also had a patellar tendon injury.

"I definitely was very angry about it. It kind of just put me in a dark place," Rice said.

The stellar athlete was out for the basketball season, football season and track. The recovery process has been long, but also groundbreaking due to the new technology that was tested on Rice.

The technology is called biomechanics testing. It uses retroreflective sensors that attach on the patient's body. The sensors are then picked up by cameras all around the testing room. There are also plates on the ground that measure the patient's mass and force, giving researchers a complete look into the mechanics of the patient's body.

"It's not visible to the naked eye and so we are able to get very specific insight on how they're moving and that's something this system allows us to do," Liz Wellsandt said. Wellsandt is a physical therapy education assistant professor at UNMC and a leading researcher for this technology.

"Having something like this, it's truly research caliber. It allows us to look at it in finer detail and kind of find the fine points we want to work out before we get him back on the field," Dr. Tao added.

To Rice, testing out the technology felt just like a video game. But in the end, it's this type of advanced technology and research that will help him heal and fulfill his dreams.

"It's just a long time coming you know? Just having that thought in the back of your head that you want to get back where you used to be and perhaps you can get better," Rice added.

If you would like to learn more about the breakthrough technology or would like to be a part of a study, you can email a UNMC representative at