Going from Knee Fracture to Function
– by Kathy Mathews-Plunkett
We have all heard the statement, “life can change in a second.” That happened to me on July 22, 2017. Simply walking into a room, my athletic shoe stuck to the corner of an area rug, my right foot got caught under the rug while my perfectly healthy left knee took a straight drop to the floor at 90 degrees.
From Knee Fracture to Function
Written by Kathy Mathews-Plunkett
Videography by Dave Lahmann
Video Edit by Rob Gilbert
The kneecap was fractured but not displaced. Thankfully, no tendons, muscles or ligaments were damaged. At first, the surgeon recommended no surgery to see if the knee would heal on its own. However, after two weeks in an immobilizer the bone did separate enough that surgery became necessary on August 7.
Two screws were put into my kneecap and wrapped with internal surgical tape, a new technique that replaces the usual wire. Stitches were done subcutaneously, so no staples were used. The incision healed rapidly.
Four weeks post surgery (6 weeks since fracture) the immobilizer brace was replaced with a flexion knee brace. The brace was set to limit my flexion as I started therapy to strengthen the leg muscle. I went to rehab 21 times during a 10-week period. All my life I’ve been a healthy and physically active person so my motivation was extremely high. I’m in my 60’s so the function of the knee joint was paramount to staying active for the rest of my life.
During therapy the flexion of my knee went from 45° to a very resistant 85° (the latter forced while the therapist measured progress). The improvement was steady but always felt like pure torture. Unlike a TKR, in which you get a “new” knee, my knee felt as if cement had been poured into the whole joint. The doctor required that I achieve 90° flexion in the same timeframe as a TKR patient. All I knew was that the more flexion was forced the more scar tissue was building up.
The doctor told me three things:
If I would just take pain meds I could get past the resistance in my kneecap.
He would perform a MUA (Manipulation Under Therapy) and operate again to remove scar tissue.
He said I would never get full function of my leg without surgery.
In response, I told him I would never take Rx pain medication. This was NEVER an option, since they make me sick. I believe that pain meds only cover up the symptom but never solve the cause. Another surgery was NEVER going to be an option. I have a degree in Sports Rehab and Fitness so I know from experience that more surgery begets more scar tissue. I left the doctor’s office determined to find wellness-based options. Defeat was not an option.
I went home and started researching the web. I am blessed to say I discovered X10 Therapy. PJ Ewing talked to me for a long time and answered every question. We discussed that I was recovering from a fracture, not a TKR, but I had to try. Once I talked it over with my husband, the machine was delivered within days. I started at a painful 85° on my first day. 30-minute sessions, 3 times a day and 14 days later I reached a range of 115°-120° flexion WITHOUT PAIN.
Two weeks later I went to the doctor for my final check up. He was expecting me to claim defeat and was amazed that my leg was working so well. I told him he did a great job on surgery but needed to help patients recover by recommending the X10.
The X10 is just miraculous. I really truly went from knee fracture to function in just a few weeks. Thank you to the brilliant inventor, the engineers and the scientists who made this happen. The sensors on the X10 monitor your knee through every movement, knowing exactly when to encourage you to increase the flexion and when to remain at a certain degree until it works through the resistance.
It’s been a month since the X10 changed my life. I have returned to my workout tapes and cardiovascular work. I still have some stiffness and discomfort but I’ve talked to others who fractured their leg and they are amazed how far I’ve come. Average recovery for a fractured knee is one whole year. I modify some exercises and stretches. I don’t run yet or do lunges but I think both will be in my future. I use the elliptical, stationary bike and treadmill. I can go up and down stairs – a very big deal.
I have a family tradition with my adult son and daughter that we do a yearly running event that includes a 10-K & 5-K challenge. My grandkids now do the 5K. It’s coming up in February. I won’t run the 10-K this year, but I will walk the 5-K. Next year you never know. My husband and I along with his brother and sister-in-law have rescheduled our Ireland trip to this spring. We had to reschedule last year because of my accident. I’m ready to go on many walking tours.
I’m happy to say I’m living with hope and function in Florida. Thank you so much to the entire X10 team.
The X10 Meta-Blog
We call it a “Meta-Blog” because we step back and give you a broad perspective on all aspects of knee health, surgery and recovery.
In this one-of-a-kind blog we gather together great thinkers, doers, writers related to Knee Surgery, Recovery, Preparation, Care, Success and Failure. Meet physical therapists, coaches, surgeons, patients, and as many smart people as we can gather to create useful articles for you. Whether you have a surgery upcoming, in the rear-view mirror, or just want to take care of your knees to avoid surgery, you should find some value here.