For High Country residents, the saying “Shop Local” is more than an expression, it’s a way of life. The phrase, which typically refers to the area’s shopping, adventure and culinary attractions, took on a whole new meaning for Ryan Postlethwait, 36, after suffering a recent tennis injury.

Earlier this summer, the well-known Blowing Rock native was enjoying an afternoon game of doubles, when he charged the net to return a volley and heard a loud pop in his knee. Injured and in need of medical attention, his friends transported the hobbled athlete to AppUrgent, in Boone.

Ryan Postlethwait with Dr. Bill DeVault.AppUrgent Care Center, a member of Appalachian Regional Healthcare System (ARHS), is conveniently located on Highway 321 near Watauga Medical Center. Within an hour of his injury, he was stabilized and provided with crutches and a knee immobilizing brace. An xray and exam was completed at AppUrgent and he was referred to Appalachian Regional Orthopaedic and Sports Medicine Center (AppOrtho), in Boone. Ryan was pleased to discover that because both offices are members of Appalachian Regional Medical Associates (ARMA) his electronic medical records (x-rays) would easily transfer from one office to the other.

“I had visited AppOrtho once before when they hosted their Grand Opening last year through the Boone Area Chamber of Commerce,” said Ryan. “Because I had previously met the doctors and taken a tour of their state-of-the-art facility, I felt at ease returning this time as a patient.”

Early the following week, Ryan was scheduled for a consult with Orthopaedic Surgeon Dr. Bill DeVault. After reviewing the x-ray and conducting several functionality tests, Dr. DeVault recommended an MRI scan due to substantial instability in the knee. For convenience reasons, Ryan had his MRI performed at Cannon Memorial Hospital, in Linville NC. The MRI results revealed that he had suffered an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tear.

“I was very impressed with Dr. DeVault,” said Ryan. “He took great care in explaining the pros and cons of each non-operative and surgical treatment plan that was available to me. After considering all of my options, it was apparent that based on my active lifestyle, surgery was my best long-term solution.”

Ryan’s ACL reconstruction surgery was scheduled a week later at Watauga Medical Center. This minimally invasive procedure involves taking a piece of the patients own tendon and making a graft of it to reconstruct and anchor the torn ligament. The successful outpatient procedure took approximately an hour to complete.

“This was my first surgery and I’ll admit I was a little apprehensive,” said Ryan. “However, because of Dr. DeVault’s steady demeanor and quiet confidence I took great comfort in knowing that I was in very capable hands.”

After surgery, Dr. DeVault recommended that Ryan undergo physical therapy at The Rehabilitation Center, in Boone.

“Ryan was a good candidate for outpatient rehab because it would allow him to maintain his work-life balance while regaining his actual balance in physical therapy,” said Dr. DeVault. “As the Medical Director of The Rehabilitation Center and the Wellness Center, I assured him that I would continue to monitor his progress as he traveled the road to full recovery.”

On his first day of rehab, Ryan was paired with Physical Therapist and Athletic Trainer, Chris Kent, MPT, ATC. After conducting a complete evaluation of the knee, Chris designed a therapy treatment program that would decrease Ryan’s post operative swelling and restore his muscle function. After only a month of rehab, Ryan had noticed a significant improvement in his knee strength and range of motion. He is on track to make a full recovery and be able to return to the tennis court within eight and ten months.

“As a native, who lives and works locally, I appreciated being able to shop local for my health care,” said Ryan. “Literally, every touch point of my care from AppUrgent, to AppOrtho, to imaging at Cannon Memorial Hospital, to surgery at Watauga Medical Center and physical therapy at The Rehabilitation Center took place through ARHS. My experience with the healthcare system’s integrated continuum of care was seamless and first-class.”

To learn more about Appalachian Regional Orthopaedic and Sports Medicine Center, call 828-386-BONE or visit For more information about Appalachian Regional Healthcare System visit

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