Bill Force has spent his life outdoors. The 66-year-old grew up being a Boy Scout. Later in life, he enlisted in the United States Marine Corp., learned to pilot helicopters and even became a Maryland state trooper — handling K9s on search and rescue missions and flying choppers. Now he’s a team roper, and a horse is his vehicle of choice.
With roping and riding comes some risks, as Bill knows all too well. He’s experienced broken ribs, a dislocated shoulder and ligament damage in an elbow. His most recent event came in March of 2021 while dismounting his horse. The horse became spooked and Bill fell to the ground. He immediately realized some damage had been done (again) to his shoulder.
“Three broken ribs were more painful, but this shoulder injury has been the worst in terms of severity that I’ve experienced,” he admits.
Bill’s left rotator cuff and biceps tendon were both torn. While some people can still function with such tears and only need non-invasive treatment to relieve symptoms, Bill needed a complete recovery of his range of motion and strength to continue with competitive roping. Surgery was the option that made the most sense for his active lifestyle.
“In order to perform at your peak, which I’ve always taken pride in, you have to be physically healthy,” Bill says. “There are a lot of physical demands associated with team roping. When you’re riding a horse, balance, core strength, arm strength and flexibility all come in to play. As it does for roping itself. “
Surgery was only one part of Bill’s road to recovery. Next, he turned to Texas Health Sports Medicine for the rehabilitation he needs. The Burleson resident had an existing relationship with the program from some of his earlier injuries and knew he would receive quality care this time around as well.
Because Bill is still in a sling from his surgery, the physical therapists on staff at Texas Health Sports Medicine have been focused on getting his range of motion and movement back. Once he can be out of the sling for good, the focus will also include exercises to strengthen his arm.
Bill goes to physical therapy twice a week. He also does balance and flexibility exercises at home under the guidance of the Texas Health staff. Full recovery from this type of injury can take up to a year, but Bill has his sights set on being back in the saddle by November for a competitive roping competition.
“If you want to get better. You’re an athlete and you want to strengthen your game going forward, that’s what they’re all about. Making you what you were and helping you get better,” he says.
“My goal is to become the best 67-year-old roper in the country. I’m expecting by the time I get done with this to be better than I was before and be able to push myself further. But I can’t get there without their assistance and support and guidance on this. For my money, Texas Health Sports Medicine is the best game in town,” he adds.