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I feel your (knee) pain!

Fitness expert can relate to joint replacement rehabilitation

Created date

July 30th, 2015
Ann's Choice residents and staff
Ann's Choice residents and staff

Following joint replacement surgery and inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation, many residents come to the campus fitness center to complete an official home exercise program (HEP).

They often work with Beth Muller, the fitness coordinator at Erickson Living’s community in Bucks County, Pa. 

When their replacement joint is a knee, Muller tells them she knows what they’re experiencing. They believe her; Muller had a full knee replacement last December. 

Empathetic from experience

Because she’s young, in good shape, and teaches fitness classes at Ann’s Choice as well as weight training and yoga classes at the Y near her home, she expected a quick recovery. 

“I thought I’d be back at work in four weeks, and in three months, I’d be doing everything I’d been doing before,” Muller says. 

Then, resident Terry Cooke, a former ER nurse, gave her a reality check. Terry takes water classes in the indoor pool and does aerobic and strength-training workouts at the fitness center, and she’s had two knee replacements. 

“Terry told me my knee would be functional in two to four months, but I shouldn’t expect to walk comfortably or teach classes,” says Muller. 

Her recovery did take longer than she expected, but it came with a silver lining.

“I’d known the technical aspects of joint replacement therapy, but I didn’t know the application until my own experience,” she says. “Now I’m more patient and more empathetic.”

And based on her experience, she’s continually encouraging people to stick with their HEP plan. 

After completing her physical therapy, Muller could easily bend her knee, but she couldn’t straighten it completely. Instead, she favored it. And that affected her gait, her back, and her hips. 

Had she not soldiered on with her knee exercises and succeeded at completely straightening it as a result, she’d have needed surgery to straighten it. 

“I can tell residents now that if they stop doing their exercises, they won’t walk normally,” Muller says. “And that’s the take-home message: You want to walk normally.

“We want everyone to be successful, heal, and return to normal,” she adds, “and we see residents accomplish that every day.”