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Blurred version of the feature image used to fill empty space behind the feature image Keith is performing physical therapy exercises after his ACL surgery

Update on Keith: 16 Weeks Post Surgery

  • Written by Lindsey Huster
  •  / 
  • 7 min read
  •  / 
  • Last updated 2 months ago

Physical therapy started two weeks post-surgery and this became the focus of any free time Keith had at home.  Everyday activities were still a challenge and took up quite a bit of time. Adding physical therapy at home each day and once a week in the office created a busy daily schedule.

Injury, surgery, and recovery

Check out my previous post to learn more about Keith’s injury, the surgery, and the start of his recovery.

Weeks 2-5: Focusing on physical therapy

Keith was able to make great improvements in flexion and extension tests during this time so that really was the driving force behind motivating him to keep a regimented schedule. He would do his exercises (which take about 45-60 minutes) each morning before work, during his lunch break, and in the evening after work.  Adding up that time, you can imagine there wasn’t much time for anything else.

During this time Keith could manage to get up steps with the crutches on one side and the use of our railing with the other hand.  However, he still needed to slide down the steps on his bottom and use handicap bars in the shower, as well as a bench seat.

Keith is receiving electronic muscle stimulation to help him recover from his knee surgery
Keith is receiving electronic muscle stimulation to help him recover from his knee surgery
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By weeks 4 and 5, we began to get stir-crazy.  Luckily, Keith was feeling more confident on his crutches so we planned a couple of nights out.  The weather was perfect for outdoor restaurants so we invited friends to join us for dinner during these weeks. We also visited a park and Keith was able to crutch along a paved walking path and even tried “off-roading”... crutches on dirt and gravel.

At 4.5 weeks post-surgery we took a nice scenic drive around Utah Lake, something we had been wanting to do.  This was probably the farthest and longest we’d been out of the house since the surgery! It was a much-needed day out (for both of us).

During week 5 Keith got on the recumbent bike, part of our community amenities.  He was able to use this a few times that week and began to build some muscle so he would be ready to bear the weight the next week.  It was a little strange seeing him use his crutches to get on the bike. 😉

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Weeks 6-9: Weight-bearing… finally!

After 6 weeks post-surgery and being on crutches, Keith could now put weight on his foot!  This opened up more exercises to do and his general mobility.  It took some getting used to and was painful at first, but soon we both began to see progress almost daily.  It was only a couple of days before he switched from his crutches to a hiking pole and then only a few days more to walking without any aid.  By week 8, Keith was able to remove the handicap bars and bench from the shower and worked his way up to showering as normal.

During this time, my mom, sister, and niece visited us.  Keith was able to sightsee with us, although he probably pushed himself too much.  He was pretty tired and sorer with the added physical activity. Since they were only in town for a few days, he was able to resume his therapy program the following week.

Keith continued with physical therapy and began to add more exercises to train and strengthen certain muscles.  He also started a cycling regime using a bike trainer/Zwift. Keith was also able to use his mountain bike on our local bike path.  This works great since the mountain bike has fatter tires, therefore more stability while he rides, and is easier for stopping and starting.  The bike path crosses streets so there are areas where stopping and starting, especially if he were clipped in on his road bike, would be quite challenging.

Keith worked really hard to regain muscle strength while continuing to improve his flexibility at the same time.  It was a balance between pushing himself and managing the swelling that came with all the physical activity. Keith’s physical therapist (PT) was able to tape his knee in such a way that helped with the swelling and he was able to use a knee sleeve for added support and compression.

We did a few more normal things during these weeks and even overnight car camped at Utah Lake one weekend.

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Weeks 10-14: Indiana for a month!

There will be an upcoming post about our trip to Indiana but related to his recovery… things went downhill while we were in Indiana. 🙁  Keith had a lot of swelling around his knee that made it painful to sit, stand and/or walk.

It’s hard to say why as nothing makes clear sense to us, his PT, or even the surgeon. Possible culprits: the 2-day drive to Indiana, the drive to Lake Norris, and lots of steps at the lake house, he may have had a virus while at the lake since a major fever broke when we returned (although he didn’t really know he was sick), generally being very busy visiting family and friends each evening, he was busy so he wasn’t able to continue with his exercise/therapy routine, etc.

Back in Utah

Keith made an appointment with his PT as soon as we returned to Utah.  His surgeon was out of the country so seeing him wasn’t an option. The PT performed several physical tests and although he was stumped, didn’t think anything was re-torn or majorly damaged.  Keith ended up having 3 sessions within 8 days to monitor the swelling before meeting with the surgeon.

This all coincided with an already scheduled 4 months post-surgery appointment with the surgeon.  During the visit, he performed a physical test to confirm what the PT said, nothing is torn or severely damaged in Keith’s knee.  Keith did have the fluid drained and a steroid shot during this appointment. He was told to stay off it for 48 hours and then to ease back into his regular physical therapy at home and continue in the office every other week.  Keith will follow up again in September, before our motorhome trip.

After waiting 48 hours, Keith got on his bike trainer just to spin a little and see how it felt.  He took it easy and it felt good so he planned to do an outdoor ride the next day. We ended up inviting our neighbor to ride with us and did a leisurely 9 miles to ease back into his riding therapy.  The following day, which was just yesterday, Keith was able to ride the trainer at a good pace.

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Thoughts thus far . . .

At this moment we are a little frustrated that Keith’s progress hasn’t continued at the pace at which it started.  However, he is still on track with meeting his therapy goals; short-term and long-term. It’s mentally and physically hard to have to take a step back and start again, but it is normal within the recovery process with surgery like this.

Most of our concern lies within the plans for spending 6 weeks in southwest Utah starting next month.  We aren’t sure if he will be able to do all the hiking, mountain biking, etc. we were planning on doing.  We postponed this trip in the spring so we are looking forward to being back in the motorhome to explore more of Utah.

I’m confident that Keith will continue to work hard on his recovery and meet both his personal and medical goals within the next few months!

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