Patient Spotlight: Long Walks With Walter

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Toms River resident Walter McInerney is an accomplished runner. He’s participated in, and won, numerous races in high school and college. He continued to run throughout his adult life. But, as he got older, running became more and more difficult. He eventually stopped running competitively, but continued to stay active. Every night, he, his wife and dog would take long walks. However, over the past several years, knee pain began to slow him down. Every day was harder than the one before and each step was increasingly more painful.

Walter knew all those years of running took a toll on his knees and there was a good chance he would have to get them replaced. “I was an athlete and have been in pain before. I thought I could just bear with it,” recalls Walter. Over the next few years he tried everything to ease the pain – braces, wraps and cortisone shots. Nothing seemed to help. He knew that surgery was his last option to try and get any relief.

Walter went to his orthopedist, and just as he suspected, the doctor recommend that Walter have two bilateral knee replacements. During this procedure, the damaged ends of the bones are shaved off and replaced with metal or plastic surfaces. It not only relieves pain, but it also restores almost normal function of the knee. After discussing it with his doctor, Walter decided that he did want to have a simultaneous knee replacement and have both knees replaced in one surgery.

Facing surgery, Walter trained like he would before a race. He worked hard to get his body in shape, focusing on his upper body strength. A few weeks later, Walter had his surgery. Within hours, he had two new knees and was taking them for a test drive on the hospital floor. After a few days in the hospital, he was discharged to an inpatient rWalter-Lungingehabilitation center. His final stop was Atlantic Physical Therapy Center’s Lakewood location. “That’s where things got really tough. I was off my pain medicine and I really started getting use to life with my new knees,” says Walter.

At Atlantic Physical Therapy, each patient is assigned to a physical therapist. That therapist meets with the patient, conducts a comprehensive evaluation and discusses the patient’s goals. From there, the therapist develops a personalized plan. Physical Therapist Jim Sellnow, MPT, was in charge of Walter’s care. Walter recalls feeling confident when hearing the plan Jim had in store for him. He trusted Jim’s knowledge, experience and true concern for Walter’s recovery. “Working with Jim was great because he explained everything and would warn when pain would be expected. He was so creative and intense without overwhelming me,” says Walter.

After two months of physical therapy, Walter is pain-free and continues to do the exercises Jim gave him. Knowing that the first year after kneed replacement is crucial, Walter sticks to the program. He’s becoming more and more active every day. In fact, only five months after surgery, he has even resumed walks with his wife and dog.