Total Knee Replacement – Starting Outpatient Therapy

by Pauline on June 6, 2010

After a week of home health, I started at a local physical therapy location for my outpatient therapy 3X week. I had researched before I went into the hospital, with  my insurance Blue Cross what outpatient physical therapy locations would be covered in my Barrington locale. Essential for me was what therapy places would be able to do my therapy very early mornings so that my husband could drive me there and then home so he could go to work after that. Most outpatient therapy places offered me an 0700 or 0730 time slot and that would not work well for getting my husband to his work which is an hour away. Lucky for me, I found a wonderful physical therapy place called Barrington Rehabilitation and Sports Therapy, 11 minutes from home, who accommodated me with 0600 time slots for my hour sessions 3X week. My therapist there was the owner, Paul Sullivan, an extremely kind person who I cannot thank enough for his expert care and advice for the 3 1/2 months I underwent outpatient physical therapy. He went over my health history and showed me different exercises to do at home, worked on range of motion–both flexing my knees and extending them, practiced stair climbing, getting up from chairs, using various machines for strengthening muscles, riding a bicycle, massaging my knee scars,  and “graduated” me from using my walker to a cane and then no walking device at all. Paul also did measurements weekly of my knees to see how the motion was coming along as well as sending reports to my surgeon and the insurance company as required. The early morning time slots were perfect as no one else was there except Paul and I so, at times when we were doing my bending of my painful knees, I was not uncomfortable gasping or shrieking a little as we worked to get the motion back to my knees. There were times I wanted results so badly I told Paul, keep pushing and ignore me if I scream as there isn’t anyone here but us! He was always careful to say he wouldn’t push me too much as that would “inflame” my knees nut slowly progress my range of motion which he felt I was motivated and doing what was expected of me. I always made sure I took a pain pill before these therapy sessions so that I could “push” past some of the expected pain to get the needed range of motion with my knees. It makes a huge difference, I believe, having a good relationship with your physical therapist as I did hear from various people using other therapy centers that they, “didn’t like their therapy, therapist, or complained that their therapy didn’t help them”. You also have to be motivated as a patient, and listen and do what the therapists tell you to do at home to achieve better results after this surgery. At the end of all my sessions with Paul, he applied ice packs to my knees which really helped keep swelling and pain to a minimum. Eventually, when I was able to drive myself to therapy, I kept those early morning time slots since I’m an early riser anyway. Blue Cross would only allow 20 outpatient therapy visits per year regardless of your diagnosis or problem, so it ended up he negotiated with them with faxed progress notes, for a few more sessions at the end of the calendar year since I needed more therapy and was progressing. All of the staff were very good with me too, as sometimes Paul was not available to work with me. My happiest moment in outpatient therapy was the first time my knee actually made the full rotation around on the bicycle but it did hurt. After that, it became easier…

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