Patricia Mallory, Rehabilitation Patient

Patricia Mallory - Harrison, MI

"I'm getting along better now than I probably have in three to four years."

After A Total Knee Replacement, Rehabilitation Got Her Walking Again

After retiring from a 35-year career in banking, 68-year-old Patricia Mallory was enjoying the extra time she got to spend with her family – especially her daughter and granddaughter.

The family was the inspiration for Patricia and her husband to relocate from their lifelong home in Adrian, Mich., to Harrison, just a year ago after she retired. Though the move and the prospect of starting over in a new community were daunting, Patricia was glad to be closer to family.

Unfortunately, the difficulty of Patricia's move was compounded by problems she had been having with her left knee. For the past three years, it had been acting up and getting progressively more stiff and painful. The loss of function got to the point where it was impacting her quality of life. After a while, Patricia said, she was almost to the point of needing to sit on an electric scooter to just get around the grocery store.

Part of the reason her knee got to the state it was in was because life events kept taking priority over going in to getting it treated. First it was the move and the rush to find a place to live in their new town – their old house sold in just two or three days after being listed. Next was a trip to Florida in the winter to visit Patricia's sister.

Finally, Patricia met with an internist at MyMichigan Health Park Harrison, who referred her to an orthopedic surgeon. At her initial evaluation, Patricia learned the full extent of the damage that had been slowly accumulating in her knee. The meniscus and the tendons in the joint had tears. The cartilage had worn so far down that it was bone grinding on bone. "It was a mess," she said. It was well past the point of a repair, so a replacement was in order.

Before she went in for surgery, however, Patricia was sent to Joint Camp. During this informational session, Patricia and other joint surgery patients learned about what to expect during the surgery and recovery afterward. "They told us exactly what to do," she said. Though it seemed daunting, Patricia was glad to be fully prepared for her upcoming treatments.

When the surgery finally happened, everything went smoothly. On Aug. 13, Patricia underwent a total knee replacement surgery for her left knee performed by Orthopedic Surgeon Mark Goethe, M.D. She stayed at MyMichigan Medical Center Midland for three days, then returned home.

Afterward, she went to physical therapy two to three times per week for eight weeks. She had been offered a specific motivation to keep her on track for her recovery: Patricia's daughter had purchased tickets for a Detroit Tigers baseball game at the end of September, and Patricia was determined to recover enough to attend when the date came around.

Fortunately, Patricia was able to attend physical therapy in her new hometown of Harrison. At MyMichigan Health Park Harrison, she met her personal physical therapist, Derick Roland, P.T., D.P.T., S.C.C.E. "He did an evaluation that day," she said. The two then talked about a plan for improving her knee strength and flexibility.

The process of recovery went as smoothly as could be hoped. Attentive care at the Health Park played no small part in Patricia's successful recovery. "It's a very nice place," she said. "They were very concerned about my needs."

With the help of Roland and Debbi Farrow, P.T.A., a physical therapy assistant, Patricia made an exceptional effort to get her new knee into shape. "They really worked with me," she said. They let her know up front everything that she should expect and what would be expected from her during her therapy. "They would explain the plan of action," Patricia said. Her therapists were even careful to offer a heads up when the therapy was going to make her sore, which it did at first, but afterward Patricia said she felt much better. "They knew what they were doing."

For her own part, Patricia made a valiant effort to move forward with her healing. She made sure to practice the exercises that she was sent home with. "You can't just sit," she said. "Your muscles may hurt afterward, but it's worth it."

Over time, the strength and flexibility returned to Patricia's knee. Compared to before the surgery, her quality of life has improved considerably. "I'm getting along better now than I probably have in three to four years," she said. What's more, she was able to start moving around again much quicker than she had thought she could have. "I didn't expect it to be this good this fast."

Now, Patricia is set on getting back to her normal life. She is thankful for the support her husband and the rest of her family gave her. "They were there for me this whole episode," she said.

In addition to spending time with her loved ones, Patricia also likes to do activities outdoors, and is glad to be able to walk around outside again. "I feel good when I walk now," she said. Now that she and her husband have settled into their new house, Patricia can focus on meeting new people in town.

Patricia was even able to meet her recovery goal. By the time game day came around, she was able to get into her seat at the ballpark without trouble. "I had no issues walking up the stairs there," she said. Her daughter's motivational strategy seems to have paid off.

The goal of MyMichigan Health's Rehabilitation Program is to help patients achieve the highest possible degree of independence after an injury, illness or disability. Convenient appointments are offered in a variety of locations throughout the region. Inpatient rehabilitation is also available for more complex conditions such as stroke, head injuries and spinal cord injuries. Those who would like more information may visit www.mymichigan.org/rehabilitation.

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