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Overcoming Fear and Pain with Help from her PT Team: Linda’s Success Story

By, Allison R. Weder

“Our backs, our necks, we hit the windshield, and I hit the steering wheel. My CRV was totaled. We went to 2 different ERs.” – Linda Saturnino, Goodrich, MI Patient

Severely hurt and traumatized, Linda Saturnino had a long road to recovery, after a serious car accident. “I was rear-ended by a 22-year-old going 77 miles per hour in a Dodge Charger. I was stopped at a stoplight. It was the biggest bang and shock to me and my car.” Linda was driving. Her sister was in the front passenger seat and her niece was in the back. All three were badly hurt. After two months of healing, Linda needed help to further restore her body and regain her strength and mobility. She went for a consultation at Advanced Physical Therapy Center, part of the Phoenix Physical Therapy family, where she met Kraig Carpenter, PT, DPT. “I really liked Kraig. He examined me thoroughly and gave me a plan right there. It gave me hope. I didn’t have hope. I stayed in my bed, hardly moving. I thought I was going to die I was in so much pain. He gave me hope when he gave me this plan.”

Linda started her six months of therapy sessions at Advanced PT-Davison with massage, ice therapy, traction, and dry needling. The team slowly added exercises that would rebuild her muscles and get her back doing the things she loved to do. “I was a daycare worker. I loved doing that. I’m a retired nurse. I have always been active, but I couldn’t do the things I wanted to do. I was very depressed and not used to being debilitated. I felt so depressed but the minute I walked into Advanced with all those smiles, I felt better. They were all working together as a team. I never felt like I bothered them, or I was intrusive.” Linda met goals along the way as the Davison team implemented the unique plan Kraig laid out just for her. It was working! “They went with my flow. They did push me, but only when they knew I could handle it. I didn’t get to go back to work, because the daycare closed but I did become a nanny for three children. I was able to bend and run. The best part? No more depression!”

Advanced PT helped Linda put the physical and emotional pain of the traumatic accident behind her. Now her attention turned to the arthritis pain in her knee that had been bothering her for years after she retired from nursing at 67. After X-rays and MRIs, her doctor recommended Supartz injections for the pain. These injections, directly into the knee, are utilized when other forms of arthritis medications have not been affective. Linda looks back on the time when they helped her. “I had the shots for four years. They helped for a while, but at the end, I waited so long I couldn’t even get out of bed. It was more pain than I wanted to live with.” Knee replacement surgery, followed by physical therapy was the next option for Linda.

Linda knew right away where to go for PT. She trusted the Advanced Physical Therapy team after her experience following her accident. This time, she went to a clinic closer to her home in Goodrich. Her initial evaluation was two weeks after surgery. “I was leery. The pain was excruciating but I saw Heather (Heather Luna, PT, DPT), and she told me she could help me. She had a plan and set goals with me.” Linda had two goals she wanted to reach, first. She wanted to graduate from using a walker to using a cane, and she wanted to be able to drive again. The hard work began right away, with flexing, squatting, leg presses and navigating a ladder laid out on the floor. Soon, with the help of Heather; Clinic Director, Amy James, LPTA; and Shelli Mora, LPTA, Linda blasted through her goals and was able to move on to others. But, as Linda recalls, not every session runs as planned. “One day, I came in and my pain level was at a seven. I didn’t know how I was going to get through the therapy session. I told Amy and she knew right away that I shouldn’t do my usual exercises. She took me to the table and massaged my knee and put some anti-pain medicine on it. She just talked to me and talked me right out of the anxiety of not wanting to be there because of the pain. I still came in because I knew they were going to help me. They adjusted my exercise program and later I got to the exercises I usually do. I walked out with a pain level of four.”

Linda is thankful she found a physical therapy clinic where she feels comfortable and knows she is not wasting her time. “They make sure to have an eye on me. They watch you here, and if you are not doing the exercise correctly, they will come and show you. They don’t reprimand you. They do it in a way that you don’t feel stupid. I am so grateful for their experience and know-how, and how they have helped me and others I see around me. I appreciate them very much. I had other physical therapy places that were recommended, but Advanced has helped me so much. I’ll make sure to come to where I know I get help.”

Linda is looking forward to the day when she is fully recovered. Until then, she is committed to attending her physical therapy sessions and finding the support she needs with the Advanced PT-Goodrich team. “I want to get back to where I was: being a nanny, going to the gym, doing water aerobics. I’m afraid still, but I have hopes of getting back to where I was before knee surgery. And when I ask the therapists why I didn’t bounce back quickly, they say it just takes time and everyone is different. I’ve come to trust these women. I believe in what they’re telling me. They know what I need and they’re so skilled in what they do. I believe 100 percent in physical therapy.”