A wise person once said, "No pain, no gain." Rehab following a total knee replacement is no exception.
"Well physical therapy is never something that you look forward to doing but you do look forward to it afterwards. This is the only pathway to get to where you want to be and have full mobility again." Said Norma Jo Johnson.
Years of arthritic knees made moving around painful and difficult for Norma. So in 2013 she had both knees surgically replaced. While it's called a knee replacement, it's actually more of a resurfacing.
"Using jigs we cut off certain parts of the bone, as you can see we're not taking off a large amount of bone off their joint we're just taking off the areas of arthritis." Said Dr. J. David Watts with CORE Orthopedics Avera Medical Group.
Norma was introduced to Dr. Watts through CORE orthopedics' Gregory outreach. This program sends doctors to rural areas to give patients access to specialities they might miss out on.
"So a patient that typically may not make that trip and get their knee replaced we can go out there and give them access to a procedure and discuss the procedure that they may otherwise not feel that they need to undergo." Said Dr. Watts.
To have the surgery, Norma left Gregory and spent a few days in Sioux Falls as rehab starts just a few hours after the procedure.
"The rehab for total knees is very important because if a patient does not move their knee after they had a replacement they're going to end up with a stiff painful knee so it's important to get these patients started right after surgery and moving." Said Dr. Watts.
The pool allows Norma a safe environment to get a feel for her new joints. But then it's back to Gregory where the hard work begins.
"We do all kinds of leg lifts and heel slides, a whole variety of exercises that strengthens the muscles around the knee." Said Johnson.
After a few weeks of working with physical therapist Jeniffer McManus, the results are starting to show.
"Do you want the good news or the bad news? the good news is that you're at 108° the bad news is you're wrong about your plateauing!" Said McManus.
Norma has stayed true to the rehab program she says being able to be close to friends and family has made all the difference. Her therapist and coach says her attitude also played a role.
"Nobody thinks of coming to physical therapy as being a fun thing it's not but when you look at the outcome and you talk to other people who went through the program and they have done what they've been taught to do they follow it they know that they're going to be back to themselves or better." Said McManus.
Norma is still on the path to recovery, but says to those who also have bad knees; there's plenty of room on the path.
"Do it sooner, not later. Get it done when you first start thinking about it don't wait." Said Johnson.
The CORE Orthopedics outreach program extends to Brookings, Viborg and Flandreau in South Dakota as well as several communities in Iowa and Minnesota. For more information just call 877-AT-AVERA.