By John Ingoldsby, Player Engagement Insider
When Athletes Recovery opened their first partner facility near Houston two years ago, they dreamed of someday having a second spot in California.
Today, that dream is a reality as Founders Kenny and Tina Hunter Greene have just partnered with an existing center in Southern California, with this facility focusing specifically on Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI) and Addiction.
“We always knew the West Coast could be a perfect location for our next facility since it has the largest concentration of active and retired athletes living there, as well as its natural beauty,” said Tina, who is former NFL player Kenny’s wife. “We visited facilities all across the country, and were super-impressed with both the people and the setting we found.”
The couple also saw an opportunity to specialize in two areas that these days does well with dedicated treatment centers.
“There hasn’t been a lot to offer in the treatment of TBIs up to now, and it was a real challenge that seemed to almost have no hope, so we are excited with our new program,” remarked Kenny, who spent seven years from 1978 to 1984 as a cornerback for the San Diego Chargers and St. Louis Cardinals.
That excitement is even more prevalent with their support in a 200-player clinical trial beginning next month, where the treatment center is working with the likes of USC, UCLA and various neurologists in a cutting-edge study to predict CTE through, among other things, brain mapping and reading proteins.
“We are dealing constantly with issues of the brain,” stated Tina in explaining what she and Kenny were seeing in their Houston center, which treats athletes in multiple areas ranging from substance abuse and performance enhancing drugs (PEDs) to depression and anxiety.
But with this focused facility in SoCal -- Pure Recovery, they and their 42 licensed practitioners can zero in on TBIs and addiction through, for instance, upfront DNA testing that they can share with the athlete as they begin their treatment.
“We touch many athletes and coaches from the professional (NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, Boxing/MMA, etc.) and amateur levels (College, Olympics, etc.) in establishing a long-term relationship, where we follow them for a year after they complete our 30-to-90 day on-site programs,” observed Tina, who has more than 20 years of experience as a healthcare executive.
“We identify which athletes would benefit from what program, and follow them through an after-care program to ensure they are successful when they transition into their living situation back home,” said Kenny, who after playing spent 13 years coaching at Fresno State, Purdue, and Washington State (his alma mater), before working in the construction business and healthcare.
And they both acknowledge that different sports lend themselves to different problems.
“Athletes can be different, which is why we created Athletes Recovery (www.athletesrecovery.com) to begin with so we could tailor their treatments to fit their specific needs,” said Tina, adding that in California they can add, for example, surfing, hiking, equine therapy, and meditation into their comprehensive exercise component to keep the athletes well trained.
“We had one professional team tell us that their athlete was in better shape after our program than he was while playing,” quipped Tina.
But it’s not just geography and surfing that makes California unique, it’s the overall lifestyle.
“It’s at a different level in many ways, from organic food and nutritious juicing to acupuncture and yoga, which has a tremendous positive effect in helping our athletes recover,” said Tina.
All of which made going west the way to go for the Greene’s, who know how to achieve their dreams as exhibited by their second place finish on The Amazing Race television show a few years back.
John Ingoldsby is the President and Founder of IIR Sports, Inc. (www.IIRSports.com) a sports media firm based in Boston. He has covered the NFL throughout his career that began as a newspaper reporter/editor, which includes articles in Bloomberg BusinessWeek magazine (NFL Player Engagement), London-based Financial Times newspaper (NFL's international strategy), the Philadelphia Daily News (annual NFC Coaches Breakfast) and the Boston Globe (Seattle Seahawks Coach Pete Carroll).