With osteoarthritis and degenerative disk disease, Helen Bonsor has had more than her share of pain, back and joint problems.
In 2000, her back problems became so severe her doctor thought she would be in a wheelchair for at least three months. That didn’t happen she says, because of the staff at St. Luke’s Rehabilitation Institute, who used pool therapy and back school classes that “kept me out of the wheelchair.”
“I had a bleak outlook,” Helen says of her attitude prior to going to St. Luke’s. “They gave me hope and gave me back more control – as I found out what I could do and how much.”
Remembering the improvement she experienced at St. Luke’s, Bonsor asked her doctor for a referral to St. Luke’s when she wasn’t recovering well after hip replacement surgery in 2004.
“I remember the feeling of relief, safety and hope I got from being there,” she says of the inpatient therapy at St. Luke’s. “I knew it was going to be better when I left,” she adds, noting that her recovery was enhanced with outpatient therapy from St. Luke’s after discharge.
When Bonsor knew she would need the other hip replaced in the spring of 2008, she started working with physical therapists at St. Luke’s three months in advance. “I knew to go before my surgery and get as much strengthening as I could.”
After the surgery Bonsor spent ten days at St. Luke’s, working with her physical therapist in the pool to reteach her muscles how to walk and stand again, regaining her range of motion, flexibility and balance. “The exercises in the pool translate to land,” she says. “They helped me to walk again, stand and do self care. Ten days later, I was completely able to take care of myself. I was able to go home and be fully independent.”
All of the therapists at St. Luke’s, says Bonsor, “are wonderful. They are patient centered, caring and use a lot of humor; they are real hands-on and very helpful.”
When it comes to scheduling outpatient appointments, she says, the staff is accommodating, finding times that work with her schedule.
“The staff is friendly and there isn’t a big hierarchy. It is more like working with a colleague or having a coach, but they have expertise that the rest of us don’t have,” Bonsor continues. “They are professional and very skilled at what they do.”