About 2 months after Sgt. Adam Jacks, 24, lost his leg to a roadside bomb in Afghanistan, he powers around the track in National Naval Medical Center‘s new physical therapy gym, pulling his trainer behind him.

The exercise helps Jacks focus on evening the gait between his flesh-and-bone leg and one made of plastic and metal. The routine is symbolic of the work of a military physical therapist, whose biggest challenge isn’t motivating patients to work harder, but controlling eagerness to recover that could exacerbate an injury.

The hospital’s PTs can expect more work in the next few months, as Navy Med prepares for its federally mandated merge with Walter Reed in Washington, DC.

The Bethesda, Md, campus recently opened a new rehabilitation center, which resembles a gym, with a track, weights, treadmills, and a climbing wall. The hospital also has a gait lab, which has a floor that can measure the weight with which patients walk, and a Computer Assisted Rehabilitation Environment lab, which simulates real-life activities, such as waterskiing.

The hospital will expand its physical therapy staff from 40 employees to 65, said Cmdr. Deborah Carr, the site chief for physical therapy. The job will become more challenging, as patients with severe injuries previously treated at Walter Reed known for its amputee care transfer to Bethesda, Carr said.

“I may never be 100 percent again, but I’m alive,” Jacks said. “I want to show them I never quit.”

[Source: The Gazette]