Ever since he was a boy, it was clear that Wesley Matsuka-Williams was fast. Growing up in Norwich, England, Wes’ dad saw his son’s talent and signed him up for the local track team.
There, moving up through the club sport system is key to getting seen by important figures in the track community. With dedicated training, that’s what happened for Wes.
Climbing to the Top
Starting out in track, Wes ran the 100-meter and 200-meter sprints and competed in the long jump. He performed well locally but hadn’t secured any national titles.
He then tried the standing triple jump and traditional triple jump (with an approach run). At 13 years old, he entered his first triple jump competition. He did so well that it was clear he should train only in that event.
Wes qualified for the national championships, placed third, and at 16, had incredible success in the triple jump. He won all major championships in England that year and qualified for his first competition representing Great Britain on the national team.
At this point, he was the top triple jumper in England and in Europe was top 10 in the world for his birth year (2000). He started to think of his future, ultimately deciding to study and compete in college in America at Pennsylvania State University.
Wes struggled with injuries from 2016 through his freshman and sophomore years of college. The pain in his knees got so bad he feared he would no longer be able to compete or even have a decent quality of life if he continued. Then, he discovered UPMC.
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Traveling to Pittsburgh
It started with a hip impingement diagnosis at Penn State and the recommendation of a cortisone injection into the hip. Wes wasn’t certain about getting the injection.
A teammate mentioned he was going home to Pittsburgh for winter break and that Wes should see a professional that helped him a while back. This was Ron DeAngelo, MEd, LAT, FAFS, director of sports performance, UPMC Sports Medicine.
Wes saw Ron and his team at the UPMC Freddie Fu Sports Medicine Center in Pittsburgh’s South Side neighborhood. Ron tested his mobility and recognized tightness in several areas of his body in addition to his hips. He created a personalized pre-exercise routine of movements and breathing to improve Wes’ posture and hip placement awareness.
He helped with Wes’ mobility as a whole and set him up for success back home. “When I went to see Ron for my hip, I saw almost immediate improvement in my mobility and the pain I was experiencing,” Wes says.
“I found that this team was quite good and knowledgeable, so I wanted to take the opportunity to care for my knees as well.” Ron referred Wes to Kentaro Onishi, DO, physiatrist, UPMC Departments of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PM&R) and Orthopaedic Surgery.
Restoring Knees To Make the Jump
Soon after working with Ron, Wes saw Dr. Onishi at the UPMC Passavant Spine Center in Wexford, Pa. He collected Wes’ medical history, examined the knee to determine the areas of pain, and used ultrasound to confirm the assumed diagnosis. Dr. Onishi diagnosed Wes with patellar tendinopathy and determined the level of severity.
“While using the ultrasound, Dr. Onishi spoke about what he was seeing and educated me about the problem areas in my knee. He explained in detail how he would go about treating me,” says Wes.
Dr. Onishi recommended percutaneous ultrasonic tenotomy (PUT). He did this using the Tenex™ device, an approximately five-minute outpatient procedure involving local anesthetics. It helps relieve pain by removing scarred and degraded tendon or plantar fascia tissue.
Afterward, Wes changed his activity for two weeks to a rehabilitation plan made by Dr. Onishi and Lillie Silverstein, PT, DPT, CSCS. Silverstein is a former UPMC Centers for Rehab Services physical therapy resident who spoke with Wes weekly. Meanwhile, he followed the plan from afar at Penn State.
“UPMC was still very well connected throughout my rehab even though I wasn’t physically present,” Wes says.
“Seeking the proper care was the differential factor in how my body responded. It was really refreshing to see a group of people who really cared for my health and wanted to see me improve. That even extended to my life outside of the clinic.”
Dr. Onishi stays in close contact with Wes even now, sharing words of encouragement and medical advice. Wes says that it was “unparalleled” to have someone he trusted to take care of his concerns while a world away.
According to Wes, Dr. Onishi showed him improvement he thought was “next to impossible.” He also added that the entire UPMC team kept him “grounded, motivated, and hungry to carry on.”
Leaping to New Lengths
“After seeing Dr. Onishi for PUT, I saw significant progress, which I hadn’t seen in the past three to four years,” says Wes. After treatment, he returned to compete (which had been on hold since he arrived in the States) and achieved his personal best.
He graduated from Penn State in May 2022 with undergraduate degrees in biomedical engineering and mechanical engineering. He also still has two years of potential NCAA eligibility.
Wes hopes to return to America for graduate school to complete an MBA and continue to compete. Now feeling much better physically than he has in quite some time, he again believes going pro is possibly in the cards for him. He has his sights set on a hopeful professional career and representing his country again in international competition.
“I am overly satisfied with my care at UPMC,” Wes says.
“I can’t describe how happy I am and how fortunate I feel to have been introduced to such incredible staff and knowledgeable people. They’ve helped me gain a better understanding of my own body and the nuances which lead to keeping me healthy. I want to make them proud and can’t thank them enough for reigniting the hope and keeping my dream alive.”
About Sports Medicine
An athletic lifestyle carries the potential for injury. Whether you’re an elite athlete or a weekend warrior, UPMC Sports Medicine can help. If you are looking to prevent, treat, or rehabilitate a sports injury, our multidisciplinary team of experts can help you get back into the game. If you are seeking to improve your athletic performance, we can work with you to meet your goals. We serve athletes and active people of all ages and experience levels. Our goal is to help you keep doing what you love. Visit our website to find a specialist near you.
At the UPMC Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, we strive to improve your function after injury or illness. We help people recover from functional, pain-related, and neurological conditions, with both inpatient and outpatient care available. The department is a leader in research, therapy, and advanced rehabilitation technology. We are dedicated to providing you with exceptional clinical care and focused on developing new technologies and treatments to help you achieve mobility and maintain independence. Find a provider near you.