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May 3, 2019
Imagine being sledded down a mountain “blue” ski run headfirst by ski patrol, while being wrapped up like a mummy, with a newly splinted leg! That was the beginning of my comeback story. The ambulance ride to Vail Hospital was brief and the emergency room staff quickly diagnosed the seriousness of my injury—a complete quadriceps tendon tear!
My choice was to either have immediate reconstructive surgery there or back in Minnesota. After conferring with my home doctor, the logical decision was to fly home and have the surgery and subsequent aftercare along with physical therapy, all at Twin Cities Orthopedics. I left Vail immediately, with a splinted leg and crutches, and was back in Minneapolis the next morning, en route to the Blaine TCO Urgent Care Center that also has surgical and physical therapy teams. Once there, I was examined and the Vail diagnosis was confirmed. My surgery was scheduled and following my pre-op physical, I arrived back at the Blaine TCO for surgery that was performed by Dr. Jason Barry with Rebecca Munson, PA-C, assisting.
The procedure involved the reattachment of the quadriceps tendon to the patella, along with 30 staples to close the wound site. I was released that day wearing a new, adjustable leg splint that could be dialed by degree to restrict knee flexing along with cautionary instructions not to re-injure the tendon and to follow a specific knee/quadriceps rehab protocol in physical therapy.
Snow and ice made navigating on crutches very difficult. With the leg splint set to no knee flexing for the next two weeks, my quality of life quickly deteriorated. One does not realize how difficult living can be without mobility until it happens. I somehow managed through the holidays.
At two weeks, I had a post surgery visit with Rebecca and had the staples removed. The battlefield surgery site was healing well and Rebecca gave me encouragement that indeed I was progressing. I received physical therapy orders consisting of twice weekly PT, working towards 60 degree of knee flex by the end of the next 30 days.
Previous to the accident, my wife and I had booked the month of January in Florida and now, I would begin my PT there away from snow and ice. Finding PT in Florida during the winter months proved to be difficult due to an abundance of seniors and golfers needing PT. Those first 30 days were challenging and I slowly made incremental progress towards my flex and strength goals.
I returned to TCO for my six-week post surgery checkup by Rebecca. The visible surgery site was now healed and I received new, twice weekly, physical therapy orders to rebuild my quadriceps strength, increase knee flexibility to 120 degrees, and improve my mobility with the goal of weaning myself off crutches by the end of the next 60 days.
I was fortunate to be assigned a highly trained and professional TCO physical therapy team primarily consisting of Ashley Rundle, DPT, and on occasion Maribeth Honomichl, ATC, PTA. The Blaine physical therapy center also contained state-of-the-art equipment that, along with instruction by the PT team, made a tremendous difference in the tempo of my recovery. For example, Ashley utilized their BFR (Blood Flow Restriction) machine on me that speeds up the strengthening of muscle mass by restricting blood flow to the affected area. Muscle mass strengthens more quickly in an anaerobic state. The PT team also gave me exercise routines to perform at home and as my progress improved, exercises were added to build my recovery step-by-step. I definitely could see I was making progress and this added to my confidence in regaining more mobility. Going down stairs by single stepping the treads was a concern of mine and we worked through that. Another concern was getting up off the floor without something to pull myself up with. Here again, the PT team worked with me to show me how I could accomplish this. Sounds simple, but again losing mobility and strength as I did, I had to regain my confidence and ability to do these tasks. The PT team made the therapy sessions fun that also encouraged me to do my PT homework. I always ended my PT sessions with their ice compression machine that reduced swelling and made my leg feel good.
I made my final post surgery visit with Rebecca after 3 months post surgery and she gave me the “return to normal activities” order. I felt like a marathoner running through the tape—I made it! While I know I still need to continue my strengthening, I have her confidence in my progress and the backup--if I need more care, don’t hesitate to call.
In summary, TCO provided compassionate care in all aspects (surgery and aftercare, physical therapy and training) that made my comeback story a success. All of their staff, including those not specifically named in this story (nurses, anesthesiologist, receptionists and others behind the scenes) played a vital role in my comeback and I am truly grateful. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend TCO to my family and friends! Thank you!