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Author: Richard Symister

ACL Rupture: My 1st Day at Physical Therapy — Bianca’s Story

Bianca, could you tell us a little bit about your first day at physical therapy?

1.Why did you choose MEPT?

Finding a therapist that has treated this particular injury, had great reviews, took my insurance and was convenient to get to was really important to me. After researching various therapists in Brooklyn, I found MEPT and the reviews really resonated with me. The care and patience people spoke to was exactly what I was looking for. MEPT really sealed the deal for me when I called and Richard answered and took a couple of minutes to get my information ask about my injury and told me he would call me back after his patient left. Once he called me back we spoke for about 15 minutes and within 30 seconds of me talking to Richard, I could tell he was extremely committed to his patients from the first call. Not only did he share that he has worked with multiple ACL patients, I could also tell that he had the IQ to help me through this traumatic experience. He could hear the fear in my voice when I called and knew that I wanted to be seen ASAP and he accommodated me. I was in his office the next day. 

2. How did you feel mentally upon your 1st visit? How did you feel upon leaving?

So nervous. This was my first real injury and I was really down about my knee. I could barely walk without my crutch, couldn’t bend my leg and really couldn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel at this point. I would barely let Richard touch my leg at first. I was way too nervous that I swear my anxiety was making me feel pain that didn’t really exist. While that first visit was definitely a lot of Richard coaching me through letting go of my fear of exacerbating the injury, I could see the progress I was making while in the session. Upon leaving, I felt more at ease with clear next steps regarding what my recovery plan will look like and what I need to do at home to stay on track. Richard set clear expectations and milestones regarding where I should be if I follow my home recovery plan and come in to PT every couple of days.

3. How did your PT help with your 1) anxiety 2) knee mobility ?

The program richard designed for me gave me the tools and the knowledge to feel like I was going to get better every week. While it was definitely difficult to do the homework and come in to PT every 1-2 days, it was so worth it. My anxiety definitely decreased as I saw increased knee mobility. I came to realize that if I stuck with the plan and committed, I would see the incremental progress each week.

4. What homework did you get and how faithful where you performing it?

I can’t recall every exercise, but a lot of ankle pumps, heel slides, knee terminator stretches, leg lifts. The plan focused on getting my extension and flexion back and getting my quad to fire/strengthen. I would get on a stationary bike and do semi circles until I could do a full revolution. Richard also had me slowly walking on a treadmill and listening to the sound of my feet hit the treadmill to understand my pace and the weight of my step on my left (injured leg) compared to my right.  

5. What was your 1st milestone (biking, stairs, knee mobility, straight leg raise, etc.)?

I think getting that first full revolution on the bike was the biggest and most memorable milestone. When you’re on the bike and you can’t get your leg to do a full cycle, it’s super frustrating. At first you think it’s impossible. I would tell Richard that if I pushed my leg to go around that I would seriously injure my knee, it just didn’t feel natural. He would tell me I would get there by next session and to keep doing the semicircles until I got more flexion and more comfortable. He had to give me a push to get me to trust that I could go a full revolution at our next session. I wanted to cry (maybe I did haha), but I listened to his coaching and sped up my pace and my heart dropped, but just like that I didn’t feel any additional pain as my leg did that first full revolution. I was amazed.

Next Blog Post: Not Knowing is the Worst Part of Any Injury — A Physical Therapist’s Perspective

Want to read how Bianca first rupture her ACL skiing? Read her story here.