Return to Performance in Bismarck


Return to Performance (RTP) at Sanford POWER in Bismarck is geared toward athletes of any age who are looking to take their rehabilitation to the next level. We focus on improving all aspects of an athlete, making RTP an innovative and tailored rehabilitation program. Our team works with athletes of any level who are recovering from an injury or surgery.

This program includes coordinated care with an RTP specialist and the physical therapy team to safely help athletes meet their goals. RTP blends the values of functional rehabilitation with sports training. With this unique program, athletes are better prepared for a safe return to their sport.

A Personalized Program

We understand that every injury is just as unique as the athlete who has it. That’s why RTP sessions are tailored to an athlete’s needs and integrated with the skills of their specific sport or physical activities. These skills can include agility, change of direction, plyometrics, speed, strength, power and endurance.

RTP is a diverse program that can help with sprains, strains or fractures to the knee, ankle, hip, shoulder, elbow and back, as well as other unique injuries.

Our program:

  • Incorporates balance challenges, coordination activities and functional strengthening drills to increase motor development
  • Teaches athletes to control their strength and coordination while focusing on motor tasks such as running, cutting, jumping, throwing and more
  • Gradually introduces components of impact and changes to center of gravity and direction of movement
  • Instructs athletes on how to adapt to a diverse range of movement challenges and skill requirements for their return to activity

Benefits of RTP

We work to:

  • Provide athletes at any age or skill level with the opportunity to work on functional rehabilitation and sports performance drills in one-on-one, hour-long training sessions with an RTP specialist.
  • Educate athletes on how to prevent injury or re-injury when they return to their activity or sport.
  • Return athletes to their full motor potential or better. We do this by rehabilitating the athlete’s injury, re-training for sport-specific skills and providing the necessary tools to obtain a healthy level of general fitness, strength, power, mobility and movement.
  • Use load tracking to obtain optimal acute to chronic workload ratios. Athletes are challenged in each session to progress appropriately to minimize injury and maximize training results.

Evaluation and Training Sessions

Athletes will get clearance to return to their sport from a physician or physical therapist. After approval, we’ll assess the athlete in skills such as running, jumping and cutting. We do this using several motor skill, strength and mobility tests.

Our RTP specialist will also quantify an athlete’s level of injury risk. This estimate comes from data markers of hip stability, pelvic stability, hip strategy, trunk stability and shock absorption. The evaluation will also identify compensation patterns and muscle imbalances to be addressed in further personalized programs.

Return to Performance Specialist

Candace Vander Wal MS, LAT, ATC, CSCS, USAW-1, RPR

Candace (Candy) Vander Wal is an athletic trainer, strength and conditioning specialist and return to performance specialist at Sanford POWER in Bismarck. She attended the University of Mary for her Bachelor of Science in athletic training and furthered her education by obtaining her Master of Science in kinesiology. Candy is also a USA Weightlifting sports performance coach, trained in reflexive performance reset, and a certified pain-free performance specialist. She started her career at Sanford Health as the head athletic trainer for a local high school in Bismarck, North Dakota. In following her passion for sports performance and rehabilitation, Candy later transitioned into her role as the Sanford POWER return to performance specialist.

Our specialists work with all athletes – not just the ones on the court, field or ice. We work with new mothers, cancer survivors returning to exercise and police officers going back to work.

 For more information about the Return to Performance program, contact us at (701) 323-1125.