After my left knee replacement (revision) on 23 October 2009, I started my physio rehab at Peter James Centre a couple of weeks later. I feel like part of the furniture there as I have done rehab at the centre for the past few operations I have had, so know most of the staff. The physios are really lovely and specialise in orthopaedic rehab, so you feel confident working with them.
When you arrive, they take baseline measurements for different things, like how much you can bend and straighten your legs, what strength you have in each joint etc. For my knee that had just been replaced, my measurements were rather poor with one of the worst being a 30 degree quads lag. I was still partial weight bearing due to the surgeon having to break my tibia, so I was on crutches and getting around quite slowly. As well as measurements the physio asks you to set goals, so mine were to be able to walk freely, with a cane if necessary, being able to get in and out of a car unaided, to drive, and to be able to get back to regular house duties.
So we set out to gain those goals with 2 x 1 hour physio sessions and 1 x hydrotherapy session per week, plus exercises at home. Each session would involve a variety of exercises that focused on the knee but would also work on the other joints too which helped support the replaced knee. Being in the orthopaedic physio room means you get to see many people going through their own rehab. The feeling of ‘why do I have to be here’ soon leaves you as you see amputees having their ‘legs’ adjusted and the pain they go through as they try to walk. It is so humbling to be around these courageous people and makes your own rehab not feel so hard.
As the weeks rolled on, I started to notice slow improvements and after 6 weeks I was allowed to come off the crutches and fully weight bear. This made things a lot easier and from then on my strength seemed to get better and better. The physio and I were ecstatic when I finally managed to get my quads lag down to zero!
A few days ago, after 3 months of rehab, I was finally discharged from Peter James after achieving all of my goals. As part of the discharge process, you have to do different tests, like balance, endurance etc. One of these tests is a 6 minute walk to see how far you can get. I achieved 308 metres in 6 minutes, which may not sound far, but for me was a massive distance and I was not overly fatigued at the end of it, which surprised me most. The physio was hoping I got to 300 metres, so she was most happy.
So as I say goodbye to Peter James for a while (I will be back there after my next op), I am now focused on continuing my exercise regime. I am doing hydrotheraphy once a week and yesterday started Tai Chi at Arthritis Victoria. I will also be doing my own physio at home to help keep my joints flexible.
Physio photo taken by Neil Creek
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