Lois Forti’s knee pain was impeding her active lifestyle and affected even her everyday movements. It was difficult just to sit down or get up from a chair. An x-ray and MRI revealed arthritis and other issues with her left knee, her primary care provider referred her to orthopedic surgeon Dr. Bryan Edwards for treatment. It was determined that Forti needed a total knee replacement.

To prepare, Forti underwent outpatient “pre-habilitation” at Novant Health’s Physician Plaza in Huntersville for several weeks. Ansley Boutin, a doctor of physical therapy explains that pre-habilitation encompasses both patient education and physical exercises.

With pre-habilitation, a physical therapist will assess how a patient will navigate their home environment following a surgery. “Are there stairs to negotiate? Is there a hand rail?,” Boutin said. If so, the physical therapist would teach the patient and a family member a safe way to get up those stairs following surgery.   

Boutin said therapists will also help with questions patients may have about the surgery. “As a patient it can be overwhelming knowing that you are going to have a major surgery.” Physical therapists teach patients exercises to do at home to prepare for the procedure as well. These are to build strength and prepare the body for the procedure.

Two days after her knee replacement, Forti was back at home and started to receive home help physical therapy. Once the home-help therapist and her surgeon thought she was mobile enough, Forti was assigned to outpatient rehabilitation where she continues to work on her strength and mobility.

Outpatient rehabilitation applies to more than knee and hip replacements, though these procedures are very common. Boutin said her center treats patients with rotator cuff injuries, ACL reconstructions, total shoulder replacements, Achilles tendon repair and patients with chronic pain in the spine.

“We love what we do,” Boutin said. “People come to us with broken parts and it’s our job to team up with them and help them return to a better place in their lives.”   

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