From crutches to IASAS


Bianca T. (‘19) wears a knee brace on her left leg as she passes the ball during an IASAS touch rugby game. [Photo courtesy of International School of Kuala Lumpur]

On a sunny October day in 2017, Bianca T. (‘19) was participating in a one-on-one drill for her last day of touch rugby tryouts. Bianca was determined to make the IASAS roster again for her second consecutive year. Suddenly, as she tried to step her opponent, her left knee collapsed. Although she did not realize it at the time, Bianca accidentally encountered an athlete’s worst nightmare: she tore her anterior cruciate ligament.
A month after the injury, Bianca had to undergo ACL reconstruction surgery. The ACL is crucial for not only sports, but also leg movement in general. It keeps the lower leg from sliding forward, stabilizing the whole leg and ultimately allowing people to shuffle, sidestep and even cut on the run. Not only did Bianca’s surgery leave her in a wheelchair for three weeks and crutches for another month, but it also prohibited her from competing in sports for nine months.

“It hurt, but I didn’t realize how bad it was until the person I stepped said she heard a pop.”

While experiencing the injury was extremely painful, Bianca’s recovery was much more tedious and difficult. Because she was not in the right condition to play, Bianca had to go through extensive physical therapy. “I spent more time doing rehab than I would have going to practice,” Bianca said. “Around two hours every day.” Bianca worked with Ms. Amber Hardy, TAS’ athletic and fitness trainer, in hopes of recovering from the torn ligament.
After ten months of physical therapy, Bianca was almost ready to play soccer again. At the beginning of the season, Bianca had to modify several drills and pass physical evaluations before she was cleared to play and compete at IASAS. “It was just always having to be careful. I [had] to wear this knee brace with hard plastic beams on the sides,” Bianca said. Even though she made it on the team, Bianca still struggled with her final stages of recovery. “I wasn’t able to get my full range of motion back,” Bianca said. “My left leg can’t straighten fully.”
This rugby season, Bianca was able to compete in IASAS rugby hosted by the International school of Kuala Lumpur. After a painful, lengthy 15 months of recovery and physical therapy, Bianca was nearly completely healthy again. “I have no problems with movements other than quick changes of direction,” Bianca said. While this meant Bianca could compete well during her matches, she was still more vulnerable on defense.
On the second day of IASAS, Bianca was facing the International School of Bangkok. She was playing line defense and trying to prevent her opponents from scoring. However, as Bianca dove at an opponent, she ended up accidentally landing on her knee at an awkward angle. While her leg bothered her for part of the game, Bianca was still able to play out the rest of the tournament.
Despite missing out on two seasons, Bianca still had a lot of support from her teammates and coaches. Throughout Bianca’s surgery and tough recovery process, her peers helped raise morale. “I got a varsity shirt and [my teammates] put me as ‘Team Manager’,” Bianca said. “It was so cute. They included me as part of the team.” Her coaches also helped Bianca’s transition back to sports as smooth as possible. “Since I missed a year of touch, [my coaches] helped me feel confident playing touch through encouragement and just letting me know what I was doing right or wrong,” Bianca said.