EAST MOLINE -
One free throw at a time, Anuar Salinas is getting back in the game.
The sophomore at United Township High School, 16, plays junior varsity basketball, but a pre-season knee injury put him on the bench.
"In the summer, one day, I fell on it really hard," Salinas recalled. "I slipped, and I think I extended it. After that, I kept on limping."
U.T.'s team doctor, Dr. Waqas Hussain, an orthopedic surgeon at ORA Orthopedics, sees more teens getting hurt playing year-round sports.
"When kids really focus on one specific sport and really dedicate themselves only to that sport, the degree of injuries has actually gone up quite a bit," said Dr. Hussain.
In this case, Dr. Hussain diagnosed a torn meniscus. Unfortunately, non-surgical options, like physical therapy, weren't helping.
"There are certain types of injuries that don't do well unless you do surgery, and Anuar's was one of those situations," he said.
Before the operation, though, the student-athlete had some anxiety about the outcome.
"Just kind of worried to see what the future is going to hold after the surgery," he said.
During the knee surgery, Dr. Hussain used a scope and special procedure.
"He had a tear," Dr. Hussain continued. "We were able to basically remove just the torn part of the cartilage itself, maintaining the rest of it in place."
After about two weeks of recovery at home, Anuar got back to shooting baskets. After a month, he was cleared to play.
"He got back to playing quickly," Dr. Hussain said. "A lot of that is not only our technique and what we do, but a testament in terms of his desire to recover."
Much like on the basketball court, it took teamwork between doctor and patient.
"Every question I had, he answered," Salinas said. "He was a really good doctor."
Back to basketball, now, and feeling better. Something that's also rewarding for Dr. Hussain.
"It really makes you feel good," he concluded. "That's really the reason why you go into medicine is you want to try to help people get better. Help them get back to things that are important to them."