Francisco “Pancho” Pons, 72, doesn’t let age get in the way of competing in and playing sports at a high level – especially basketball. An athlete his whole life in his native Ecuador, he took up swimming at age six, tennis at age eight, and basketball at age 12. For three years he played on the Ecuador national basketball team. Following that, he took up running which he still does today.
Five years ago, he took a bad fall on the basketball court and sustained a serious hip injury which required him to be in a wheelchair. Never one to be sidelined, Pons did ball handling and shooting from his wheelchair which satisfied his need for activity. He also used the pool daily and performed exercises to get stronger, both mentally and physically.
After six months, Pons was well enough to return to ‘standing’ basketball. He entered tournaments with much younger players — and won.
Staying in the game
But he knew that he’d do whatever it took to avoid another injury setback. So, while on a trip to visit his daughter in Chicago, Pons scheduled an appointment with Dr. Kathleen Weber, a sports medicine physician at Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush (MOR) and team physician for the Chicago Bulls. He wanted an evaluation of his hip, an explanation of the knee pain he was experiencing, and to meet a physician that would help him remain very active going forward.
Dr. Weber spent a lot of time with Pons, both talking with him about his goals and evaluating his strength, balance, and flexibility. At the conclusion of the visit, she recommended that he visit the MOR Sports Performance Center and work with athletic trainer Patrick Pauley there. She believed that together they could make some strides toward reducing Pons’ pain and improving his functionality and strength.
A friendship in the making
Pauley and Pons worked together on incorporating traditional weightlifting exercises, blood flow restriction training, and Functional Range Conditioning (FRC) to improve his joint health and controllable range of motion. They focused on these techniques over three weeks and were able to build up his exercise program so he could continue his training while he was home in Ecuador.
At the conclusion of their work together in the MOR Sports Performance Center, Pons gave Pauley a Panama hat to remember him by. It’s a gift that Pauley treasures.
“Pancho is the ideal client for MOR Sports Performance,” Pauley explains. “He is extremely driven and disciplined. I really enjoyed him.”
Now, back home in Ecuador, Pons sticks to a strict wellness program. He rises each day at 5:30 AM to stretch and do the exercises Pauley taught him. Then, every day but Sunday he plays basketball, often with much younger players. He has no hip or knee pain – or anywhere – now.
“I motivate myself, but Patrick taught me how to incorporate exercises into my day that will help me continue to compete,” Pons explains. “I love to work with and motivate young people so I’m thankful that my friend Patrick helped me continue to do that as well.”