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UPMC Patient Stories

​Physical Therapy Patient Stories

Read the success stories of some of our physical therapy patients. If you have a story to share, please fill out our online form.

Meet Sue

Sue Rosiak

As she started to develop arthritis, Sue, a 67-year-old Bethel Park resident, began taking regular walks in South Park with her daughter Jessica, an X-ray technician at the UPMC South Hills and UPMC West Mifflin outpatient offices. Sue wanted to ward off the effects of the arthritis, but it still crept in. She needed to have a total right knee replacement in February 2014.

Soon after surgery, Sue began outpatient physical therapy at the South Hills location of UPMC Centers for Rehab Services. There she met her physical therapist Dave, who would see her through four different knee surgery recoveries.

Read Sue's Full Story

“Dave and I just connected,” recalls Sue. “He knew what I needed to get back on my feet and I trusted him. I asked for him each time I had to come back."

"The CRS South Hills location was close to home, but it’s Dave who kept me coming back,” says Sue. “He had me do range of motion exercises on the exercise bike, leg presses, and various stretches. I also had to practice walking on stairs.”

Dave also gave Sue a list of exercises to do at home so that she could continue to heal and regain her mobility. She was determined to walk in the Arthritis Foundation’s 2016 Jingle Bell Run in Pittsburgh. With patience and determination, she was able to complete the 5K walk alongside her daughter.

“Jessica told me that she was having trouble keeping up with me,” says a surprised Sue. “She actually said that I was inspiring her to keep moving instead of the other way around.”

Now that Sue has successfully completed that 5K, she has set her sights a little higher, literally. She plans to climb to the top of both Notre Dame Cathedral and the Arc de Triomphe on an upcoming vacation to Paris.

“I want to see those gargoyles up close, so I’m really thankful that I’ll now be able to climb all those stairs!”

Read more about the physical therapy program at UPMC Centers for Rehab Services.​

Meet Sondra


A retired pediatric nurse, Sondra loves staying active doing yard work and gardening. Whenever snow started falling, she didn’t hesitate to grab a shovel to clear the driveway and sidewalk at her Forest Hills home — until she was done in by a heavy, wet snow that fell in late winter 2013. recoveries.

“I guess I thought I was still 16, but that snow was bad,” says Sondra, now 70. “My shoulder was so sore afterwards that I couldn’t lift my arm above my head.” Unable to lift her young granddaughter, she finally saw a doctor who determined she had a badly torn rotator cuff.

Read Sondra's Full Story

Sondra underwent corrective surgery at a local hospital that May. Three days later she began physical therapy at UPMC Centers for Rehab Services’ Forest Hills location, just 5 minutes from her home.

“I’m on Medicare, so I can go anywhere. I chose that CRS location because it’s close to my house,” says Sondra. “I couldn’t drive for six weeks and I didn’t want to put anyone out.”

Determined not to end up with a frozen shoulder, Sondra paid keen attention to her physical therapist, Brian Anderson, DPT, and worked diligently at her rehabilitation. “Brian said that it takes time and effort to do well. So I did everything he told me,” she says.

“As a former nurse, I knew their job was to help me heal. Everyone there was wonderful, especially Brian. They knew what they were doing.”

Sondra’s therapy began with passive exercises and then moved on to arm lifts and other exercises to increase her mobility and range of motion. She also faithfully continued her prescribed exercises at home.

“It was a long haul, but I felt I was in very good hands. Everyone treated me well and concentrated on me,” says Sondra. “They began to feel like family.”

Sondra steadily regained her full motion; two months after her surgery, she was able to pick up her granddaughter again. Today, she remains active with her gardening and recently joined a gym where she works out three times a week. But she no longer shovels snow, opting now to pay someone else to do the job.

Sondra hopes she’ll never need physical therapy again. But if she does, she’ll definitely return to UPMC Centers for Rehab Services.

“I couldn’t have asked for a better experience,” says Sondra. “I really felt they were invested in my recovery and that I was important to them. Why go anywhere else?”

Read more about the physical therapy program at UPMC Centers for Rehab Services.​

Meet Carrie

Carrie Vaccaro

A long distance runner, Carrie spent 8 months running local trails to prepare for the 2014 Pittsburgh Marathon. She continued her training runs even when she developed pain in her hips.

“I put months of hard work and training into the race. I didn’t want it to be for nothing!” says Carrie, 36, of McCandless.

The mother of two young boys, Carrie completed the 26.2-mile marathon despite severe pain in her hips, pelvis, and abdomen. Weeks later, an MRI showed she had FAI (femoral acetabular impingement) and a labral tear in her left hip.

Read Carrie's Full Story

At first, she tried physical therapy (PT) to strengthen her hip and glutes, but 6 months after the marathon, she underwent arthroscopic surgery on her hip. After the operation, Carrie resumed PT, working with Craig Maartmann-Moe, DPT, Cert. MDT, CSCS, facility director and physical therapist at the McCandless location of UPMC Centers for Rehab Services, located just minutes from her home.

But Carrie’s story didn’t end there. Although the hip arthroscopy resolved her left hip pain, she continued to experience terrible pelvic, back, and abdominal pain. She underwent a second surgery for core muscle tearing, or athletic pubalgia … then another hip arthroscopy to repair a labral tear and FAI in her right hip … and, finally, a fourth surgery to resect the nerves in her abdomen, which were entrapped in scar tissue.

Through it all, Carrie continued PT with Craig, who specializes in hips. He worked closely with Carrie’s surgeons to develop the best possible plan for her needs and goals.

“My pain was gone as soon as I woke up from my last surgery in March 2016,” recalls Carrie. “All of the pain and pressure that I experienced for nearly two years disappeared.”


Carrie says her recovery has been “amazing”. Two months after her fourth operation, she started running again.


“Craig never gave up on me, even when it seemed like everything was wrong. He was thorough and able to identify and treat the many different sources of pain,” she shares. “He kept me calm and focused during the toughest time of my life.”

Carrie also credits him for understanding her fierce desire to get back to running, working to build her strength and endurance. She’s now running long distance, training for a half-marathon, and planning to run a full marathon within the year.
“He pushed me to my limits, teaching me about my injury and the importance of strong hips and glutes. He also taught me to be more attuned to my body and not to ignore pain,” Carrie says. “It’s hard to believe that a year ago I had difficulty walking. I’ve made a full recovery and I’m stronger than I’ve ever been.”

Read more about the physical therapy program at UPMC Centers for Rehab Services.

Meet Ryan

Ryan - PT Patient

Ryan, a freshman at Slippery Rock University, has experienced several injuries throughout his highly competitive baseball career.

His most significant injury was a torn ligament in his throwing arm which ultimately required Tommy John surgery, a procedure in which a ligament in the elbow is replaced with a tendon from elsewhere in the body.

Read Ryan's Full Story

“I’ve had multiples injuries that I’ve needed to overcome, but when I messed up my throwing arm, I thought that would be the end of my baseball career,” said Ryan. “Once I made the decision to have the surgery, I knew that I’d go to UPMC Centers for Rehab Services’ Butler - North Main Street location for rehabilitation which made me feel better about the whole experience because I knew I’d have a good recovery.”

Although Ryan may have delayed his dream of playing college baseball, he realizes that he has a bright future ahead of him, one that still involves playing baseball.

“My experience with CRS was very positive,” said Ryan. “My physical therapists, Marc and Joe, and all the staff members are friendly, energetic, very knowledgeable, and work as a team to help people get back to doing the things that are important to them.”

Ryan’s physical therapists also served as mentors throughout his recovery and he is now considering a career as a physical therapist. He’s also happy to be back to playing baseball.

Read more about the physical therapy program at UPMC Centers for Rehab Services.

Meet Allen


Despite rapid weight gain and constantly feeling a general sense of being unwell, Allen, now 62, was able to do the time honored tradition of walking his daughter down the aisle in 2012. Allen had played basketball most of his life and enjoyed working out, so he didn’t understand the sudden weight gain. He wanted to be around to enjoy his future grandchildren, so he needed to know the reason behind his symptoms.

An endocrinologist found a tumor on Allen’s pituitary gland and he was diagnosed with Cushing’s disease, an illness in which the body produces more estrogen than testosterone, causing weight gain. In May 2013, Allen had the tumor surgically removed at UPMC Presbyterian. By this point, he had gained 80 pounds, was unable to walk, and the disease was causing his bones to deteriorate. A CAT scan revealed that Allen’s hip bones had nearly disintegrated. Total right and left hip replacements were in order.

Read Allen's Full Story

Allen had his right hip replaced in October 2013. After four days in the hospital, he went home but wasn’t able to move. He soon began physical therapy at UPMC Centers for Rehab Services’ Penn Hills location.

“The pain was so intense, I would actually cry,” remembers Allen. “But my therapist was very encouraging and told me ‘We’re going to get you moving. Don’t worry.’”

Allen kept up with the exercises he was taught and by May 2014, he was back in surgery for a total hip replacement on his left side. At this point, he had the routine down and was excited to start physical therapy at CRS Penn Hills once again.

“My care was excellent at CRS,” says Allen. “And I was able to meet other people who were going through the same thing as me. It was nice for all of us to work together and encourage one another.”

Allen’s therapist, Ron, had him do leg lifts, walk up and down stairs, use the exercise bike, and walk between parallel bars for support. He dedicated himself to each therapy session so he could get as much out of them as possible. Allen also kept up with his exercises at home. He’d lie on his bed and move his legs in a scissor motion, do various leg lifts, and he used exercise bands to gain strength.

Read more about the physical therapy program at UPMC Centers for Rehab Services.

Meet Helen


While walking to mass on a cold Sunday just after Christmas in 2015, Helen, 79, tripped on the curb and landed on her left knee and shoulder. The impact was so intense that she thought she had broken her knee cap. The excruciating pain in her left shoulder spoke for itself and she knew something was wrong.


Read Helen's Full Story

Fast forward three days to December 30 and Helen was in surgery for a reverse shoulder replacement at UPMC Passavant. Her knee would heal on its own but a large metal plate had to be placed in her arm. Helen’s daughter, Helena, a vestibular therapist at UPMC Centers for Rehab Services, recommended that her mom participate in physical therapy at CRS Wexford. Helena works with the physical therapists in that office so she knew her mom would be in good hands.

“Lon and Danielle were my therapists at CRS Wexford and they did a wonderful job,” says Helen. “I was terrified that I’d never regain full use of my arm but with their help and expertise, I was on my journey of wellness and my path to independence.”

While at CRS Wexford, Helen did exercises to work on her range of motion so that she could do things on her own again, such as getting dressed and brushing her teeth. These exercises included:

  • Wall crawls with her hand
  • Using a hand-operated exercise bike
  • Stretching using exercise bands
  • Sitting in a chair and using her arms to raise a pulley

To ensure a full recovery, Helen was diligent about doing some of these exercises at home as well. While participating in physical therapy, Helen still had weight restrictions for certain household tasks. She wasn’t allowed to lift a gallon of milk, she wasn’t able to use the vacuum cleaner for some time, and her daughter had to drive her around.

“This accident was devastating. It was a very overwhelming experience to go from being healthy to totally incapacitated,” says Helen. “But the temperament of my therapists was great and they took the anxiety away. They communicated their approach to care so I’d understand why they were having me do certain things. It’s a process to heal and it doesn’t just happen overnight, but they help you get through it and I should be completely recovered by this coming Christmas, one year later.”

As a grandmother and chauffeur to two school-aged children, Helen was happy to finally be able to drive again so that she can help take her grandchildren to soccer, baseball, and basketball practice. She is now back to volunteering at various parishes and is able to attend daily mass.

“Would you believe – five other people were admitted to the hospital the same week as me from falling or tripping on their way into church,” remarks Helen. “I’m going to be extra careful this winter season. But it’s comforting to know that great care awaits me at CRS Wexford, should I have another accident.

Read more about the physical therapy program at UPMC Centers for Rehab Services.

Meet Cara

Cara Lyons

While crossing the street to get to class one day, Cara, a sophomore at the University of Pittsburgh, was struck by a car in the crosswalk. Although she was disoriented at first, she shook it off thinking she was fine. When she stood up, she had severe pain shooting through her foot and ankle. Thankfully her roommate was nearby and was able to help her.

Nine days in the hospital and four surgeries later, Cara had a lot of healing to do after suffering from an ankle fracture and a Lisfranc injury, in which bones in her midfoot were broken.

“All the little things became a major ordeal,” said Cara, who has been a dancer all her life. “Being in a wheelchair and needing a shower, going to classes, getting to the library, or being able to go out with friends was all very challenging.

Read Cara's Full Story

“I had to stop and rethink everything, like how I was going to climb stairs. I had to be patient with myself and, through it all, asking for and accepting the help of others made me a stronger person.”

Cara started physical therapy at UPMC Centers for Rehab Services’ Oakland location and was determined to get back to her old self as quickly as possible. In addition to activities of daily living, it was very important for Cara to be able to ballet dance and balance on her toes again. She told herself that she was not going to leave physical therapy until she reached her goal.

“My therapist, Catherine, was great,” said Cara. “She kept me focused on the end result and challenged me during every session. She helped me understand that patience with the process would pay off.”

The physical therapy at CRS Oakland certainly paid off. Cara is back to dancing in the Pitt Ballet Club and has now shifted her focus back to her neuroscience major in hopes of becoming a physician’s assistant.

Read more about the physical therapy program at UPMC Centers for Rehab Services.

Meet Karen and Nicole

Karen and Nicole Jackson

Karen Jackson and her 14-year-old daughter, Nicole, a former competitive gymnast, enjoy doing many mother-daughter activities together.

Surprisingly, one of these activities includes attending physical therapy sessions at UPMC Centers for Rehab Services’ Moon Township location. What started out as a positive experience for Karen soon became a place of healing for Nicole as well.

Karen began physical therapy with Lauren DeFilippi, MPT, OCS, after being diagnosed with a hip injury, crediting Lauren with getting her back to pain-free living. When Nicole was injured during gymnastics, Karen immediately thought of the care she received at CRS Moon Township.

Read Karen and Nicole's Full Story

"It was really important that Nicole was able to return to gymnastics and not be reinjured,” said Karen. “Lauren was adamant that she needed to take her time with the physical therapy and heal properly, which enabled my daughter to accomplish her goals and safely return to her sport.”

Karen also credits Lauren and her staff's personalities and bedside manner for enabling them to have such great experiences.

"The staff is so good at connecting with people and their environment is so positive,” remembered Karen. “Even though we were doing physical therapy, the staff really listened to our concerns, and made it a fun environment. I was so impressed with everything they did there."

For the next five years, Karen and Nicole continued to visit Lauren for various reasons, including shoulder injuries, a broken wrist, and hip and back injuries. Nicole eventually retired from competitive gymnastics. She and Karen are very thankful for the time they spent at CRS Moon Township, and the services they received there.

"They were able to rehab both me and my daughter in a fun and memorable way,” said Karen. “They got us back to doing our normal thing and that’s what matters most.”

Read more about the physical therapy program at UPMC Centers for Rehab Services.

Meet Connie

Connie - PT Patient

Connie woke up one morning with a severe pain in her shoulder. She quickly made an appointment with her primary care physician, who ordered an MRI that revealed the issue – a torn rotator cuff.

Connie had friends who had undergone rotator cuff surgery but still didn’t regain full use of their shoulder. She wanted to do anything possible to avoid surgery.

“I learned that physical therapy can help you regain use of your arm without having surgery,” recalled Connie.

“UPMC Centers for Rehab Services’ Penn Hills location is only ten minutes from my house so I was excited to get started on rehab as soon as possible.”

Read Connie's Full Story

At CRS Penn Hills, Connie’s physical therapists pre-screened her to determine her arm issues and then put a personalized plan together so she could build up her strength. They had her do stretches, lift weights, use exercise bands, and perform exercises like touching the wall and crawling her hand down it. All of these exercises could also be done at home so that Connie could shorten her recovery time.

“Everyone was so knowledgeable about my injury,” she remembered. “I really appreciate the care and guidance they provided, and they scheduled appointments so it was never overcrowded. The personalized attention was great.”

Now that her arm is feeling better, Connie is eager to start hitting the links.

“I learned to play golf because all business decisions are made on the green,” said Connie. “I’ll never have a full range of motion like I did prior to my injury, but I’m really looking forward to getting back out there and swinging my clubs.

Read more about the physical therapy program at UPMC Centers for Rehab Services.

Meet Steve

Steve - PT Patient

Steve, 60, a retired teacher and avid senior league baseball player, needed both of his knees to be replaced after being a runner for 38 years.

As a lifelong athlete, Steve was eager to get back to his favorite sports as soon as possible, so he started physical therapy at UPMC Centers for Rehab Services’ Eastgate Plaza location in Greensburg following each knee surgery.

Steve did physical therapy with Jamie Dunlap, DPT, after his first knee replacement surgery and was happy to have her help him again.

Read Steve's Full Story

“Jamie was willing to push me but also taught me how to progress the right way,” said Steve. “She really reinforced that recovery is a process. Sometimes a crawl, walk, and then run scenario. She was fully aware of my goals and helped me achieve them without wasting time or missing anything in the process.”

Steve has since been recovering well and sees a bright and active future ahead of him. He is looking forward to getting back to doing the things he enjoys.

“I never felt like I was just a number and always recommend Jamie and her staff to everyone that I talk to,” said Steve. “They’re very professional and knowledgeable. I really can’t say enough about the care I received at CRS.”

Read more about the physical therapy program at UPMC Centers for Rehab Services.

Meet Terry

Terry - PT Patient

After retiring as a public school teacher and principal, Terry, now 70, was determined to remain physically active. He loves playing basketball and tending to household chores, including cutting wood for the fireplace.

Unfortunately, Terry’s hips started to bother him over time.

He had to stop playing basketball and sought advice from his primary care physician.

Read Terry's Full Story

“The pain intensified over the span of three years,” recalled Terry. “It got to the point where I told myself ‘enough was enough.’”

His PCP referred him to orthopaedic surgeon Brain Klatt, MD, at UPMC, who would later perform a hip replacement on Terry. After the surgery, Terry needed physical therapy. He chose UPMC Centers for Rehab Services’ Greensburg location in Eastgate Plaza and was assigned to physical therapist Jamie Dunlap, DPT.

“I initially chose CRS Greensburg because it was close to my house,” said Terry, “I considered it a true bonus to find Jamie and her staff.

“She showed me how to do things the right way,” he continued. “She kept me focused so I could progress. I have the utmost confidence and trust in her.”

Ultimately, Terry needed to have his other hip replaced as well, so he returned to Jamie for his post-operative rehabilitation.

“Everyone at CRS Greensburg works as a team and is very professional, but it’s also a fun atmosphere,” said Terry. “I wanted my new hips to last so I could return to the gym and continue leading an active life. Jamie helped me achieve that."

“I have and will continue to recommend Jamie and her staff in the future.”

Read more about the physical therapy program at UPMC Centers for Rehab Services.

Meet Frank

Frank - PT Patient

While golfing in 2013, Frank, a 57 year old global energy consultant and father of three, exacerbated a rotator cuff injury. The tear was so severe that he had to have surgery on his right arm. Eight weeks later, he started physical therapy at CRS Murrysville.

Read Frank's Full Story

“The physical therapy program at CRS Murrysville is a beautifully methodical program,” remembered Frank. “I progressed very well under the guidance of my physical therapist, Christin. I asked her to push me and she did.”

Christin, PT, DPT, facility director at CRS Murrysville, had Frank perform exercises that would enable him to get back to his active lifestyle. At first, Frank could only lift his arm 45 degrees while lying down but Christin pushed him to go to 90 degrees. He would lift small things like a broom handle and swing it back and forth to emulate a golf swing. Frank would also make his hand crawl up the wall to work on mobility.

After many weeks of therapy, Frank was literally back in full swing – playing golf, directing his church choir, playing the keyboard and guitar in his church band, and shooting hoops.

Therapy became a family affair. Two of Frank’s three daughters also received physical therapy at CRS Murrysville, Hannah for a torn ACL, and Samantha for a tweaked neck.

“Hannah was so inspired by her therapists and her time at CRS that Christin let her shadow her,” shared Frank. “Would you believe – Hannah was majoring in forensic science but changed it to physical therapy due to her experience at CRS.”

“I will sing the praises of UPMC,” Frank said. “It has been a truly, truly wonderful experience. Not just for me, but for my whole family!”​

Read more about the physical therapy program at UPMC Centers for Rehab Services.

Meet Shelby

Shelby - PT Patient

Shelby, a senior and longtime softball player at Trinity High School, had been experiencing pain in her elbow for quite some time when she decided to seek physical therapy at UPMC Centers for Rehab Services’ North Strabane location.

She was being treated by Craig Doman, PT, for physical therapy on her dislocated elbow when he discovered another more serious injury.

Craig recommended she see a UPMC Sports Medicine physician to evaluate her elbow. She soon learned that she had a tear in the ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) and underwent a procedure known as Tommy John surgery by Mark Baratz, MD.

Read Shelby's Full Story

Following surgery, Shelby suffered from nerve damage in her pinky and ring fingers as a result of her elbow injury which caused her to lose feeling in her fingers and severely limited the use of her hand. After some time in therapy, it was determined that the best course of action was a second surgery to repair the damaged nerves.

Shelby underwent her second procedure in June 2014. She continued occupational therapy for her hand until February 2015. She and her therapists worked on strengthening her hand by using tools such as exercise putty, rubber bands and clips to regain full use of her fingers.

After nearly nine months of therapy and rehabilitation, Shelby regained feeling in her fingers and was able to return to softball in March, just as the season was beginning.

“To be honest, I didn’t expect to be able to play at all my senior year,” said Shelby. “Going through something like this, where you’re thinking that you can’t do the thing you love anymore, is really hard. It was a really big accomplishment for me to recover from my injury in time to play during my senior year.”

Her recovery from her injury was a long and trying road and she gives credit to the team at CRS North Strabane for sticking by her side and getting her through.

“I have gone to many other therapists over the years and I always hated it,” said Shelby. “But my experience with UPMC Centers for Rehab Services was different from any of my past experiences. I absolutely loved my time with them. My therapists became like family to me. Through my hardest times they were there. When I wanted to give up, they encouraged me. They really got me through it and I’m very grateful to them. I highly recommend CRS to anyone who needs it.”

Shelby rounded out her last season at Trinity with a trip to the state championship where they placed second out of 600 schools. She is pain-free and ready to start her next chapter at cosmetology school.

Read more about the physical therapy program at UPMC Centers for Rehab Services.

Meet Lew

Lew - PT Patient

A self-described “baby boomer”, Lewis “Lew” Davis is proud of his active lifestyle. In the spring of 2014, though, he found out his right rotator cuff was partially torn in two places and needed to be repaired.

Not wanting to miss out on a summer of golfing (his favorite pastime), Lew chose to delay surgery until the fall. Unfortunately, the ongoing use of his shoulder led to a complete tear.

Lew had no choice but to undergo surgery, and six weeks later, it was time to begin rehabilitation.

Read Lew's Full Story

“I chose UPMC Centers for Rehab Services’ McCandless location because it opens at 7 a.m. and it was on my way to work,” Lew said. “Turns out, this was one of the most fortuitous decisions I’ve ever made.”

Lew was assigned to physical therapist, Amy Raco, PT.

“I told her my goal was complete recovery of my shoulder’s range of motion and strength,” Lew said. “I was nervous, though, because I could see other patients in the gym rehabbing from the same surgery. I realized that I was more severely impaired than most. Any significant movement was very painful.”

Lew was making progress in rehab but still experienced issues. An MRI of his shoulder was ordered, which showed he had a large amount of scar tissue that was impacting recovery.

“I underwent a second surgery to remove the scar tissue, and the very next day, was back rehabbing with Amy,” Lew said. “Given that unanticipated complication, Amy had to get creative with me. The normal exercises for rotator cuff repair weren’t going to cut it.”

Amy was up to the task. She improvised several exercises to suit Lew’s individual case.

“She was absolutely outstanding. Very supportive,” Lew said of Amy. “She encouraged me to be patient and she was correct!”

It took a total of eight months from the time of his first surgery for Lew to completely recover his range of motion and all his strength in his shoulder. But now he’s back on the golf course, proudly swinging his clubs.

“Amy, and everyone else who dealt with me at rehab on a regular basis, really made me feel like I was part of a family,” Lew said. “I hope I don’t need rehab again, but if I ever do, the decision on where to go is already made.”

Read more about the physical therapy program at UPMC Centers for Rehab Services.

Meet Alec

Alec - PT Patient

Back to back ACL tears in both knees in 2013 and 2014 eliminated Alec’s chances of playing football in his junior and senior years of high school. But that has not slowed him down, even for a second. With the help of his surgeon, Dr. Freddie Fu, who surgically repaired his torn ACL’s, and his physical therapist, Tony Sanks at the CRS Greensburg location, Alec is on the road to a full recovery.

“I feel very strongly that although I missed out on playing football, having worked with UPMC Centers for Rehab Services for my physical therapy, I am prepared to move on to my next goal in life…a career in the military”.

Read Alec's Full Story

Active on his high school’s student council, and a member of both the wrestling and lacrosse teams, Alec is about to head off to college. He hopes to get an ROTC scholarship and is considering a major in engineering management or logistics, with the ultimate goal of serving in the United States Army.

“Tony Sanks and the staff at the Greensburg CRS were a part of my older brother's rehab program nine years ago. That was the main reason why I chose to go to UPMC Centers for Rehab Services when I injured my knee the first time. It made sense for me to go to CRS because I trust and have confidence in them. I never felt that things were stale. I didn’t have the same rehab program over and over. Other places just don’t do that. Tony always has a cutting edge approach to rehab and the people are great.”

"The people at CRS really helped me by creating an environment that basically was an extension of my athletic experiences. I have strength and confidence in my knees and I feel that I can conquer anything,” says Alec.

Read more about the physical therapy program at UPMC Centers for Rehab Services.

Meet Jeff

Jeff - PT Patient

After multiple knee surgeries, Jeff was looking for the best physical therapy.

As a long-time runner, it was important to Jeff to be able to run without knee pain.

He chose UPMC Centers for Rehab Services at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex so that he had access to same state-of-the art resources and expertise as many of our local sports teams.

Read Jeff's Full Story

After completing his therapy, Jeff was able to begin running again — safely and comfortably.

“My therapist was great, it was convenient, and I loved the specialized equipment. They kept me motivated by changing things up and challenging me during our sessions. Together we charted my progress and I could see the results."

Read more about the physical therapy program at UPMC Centers for Rehab Services.

Meet Vicki

Vicki - PT Patient

In 2010, Vicki fell and injured her shoulder.

Two weeks after surgery, she entered physical therapy at the UPMC Centers for Rehab Services location in Allison Park.

The location (just a few minutes from her home) was always clean and comfortable, and she appreciated how committed the staff was to helping her schedule convenient appointments.

Read Vicki's Full Story

Her therapist helped her to gather the clinical information from her physicians and surgeons, so that they could work together to meet her goals in the safest, most successful way possible.

Vicki and her husband, both faculty members at the University of Pittsburgh, had become active flat-water kayakers, so Vicki even brought her paddle to therapy, where they customized her strength training for the paddling motion.

“Because I had such a good experience, I always recommend CRS when I am talking to friends who are having knee, shoulder, ankle, or other problems. Even after my therapy was over, I continued to do the exercises that my therapist created for me, and now I can do regular strength training with both arms.”

Read more about the physical therapy program at UPMC Centers for Rehab Services.

Meet John

John’s still not quite sure what led to the misalignment of his spine, but he does know one thing: the pain was excruciating.

It started in January 2016 with some “off and on” discomfort in his right hip, then the pain moved to his left hip. He tried “working through it” with some self-prescribed exercises, but by springtime the pain was constant in both hips and lower back.

Read John's Full Story

He then went to a primary care doctor who ordered x-rays, but was unable to determine the reason for his pain. “It was getting worse and worse — and it was killing me,” says John, 60. “Some mornings, I just didn’t want to get out of bed.”

A neurodiagnostic technologist with UPMC, John spends most of the day on his feet carefully maneuvering around wires connected to ICU patients while using special equipment to examine brain, nerve, and muscle activity. The pain became so bad that his daily 45-minute commute was almost unbearable. He could no longer enjoy Friday evening cornhole games at his son’s house or fishing at Cross Creek Lake.

After several months, his PCP suggested opioids for pain and referral to a surgeon, but John refused. “I just didn’t want to go that route,” he says. As a last resort, he opted to try physical therapy.

In June, John started physical therapy with Jeff Klug, MPT, facility director at UPMC Centers for Rehab Services’ Castle Shannon location, just 15 minutes from his South Park home. Jeff quickly determined that John’s spine was misaligned. Additionally, his muscles were very tight through his hips, quads, and hamstrings.

“He figured out right away what was wrong with me! A couple months of physical therapy and my pain was gone,” says John. “It was the worst pain of my life, but they fixed me without drugs or surgery.”

Almost immediately, John could tell the therapy was helping. Over the next eight weeks, the therapist had him do targeted stretching and exercises to realign his spine and strengthen his core. “They got things moving in one way, then worked on other things,” John says. “They got me pain free and I couldn’t be happier!”

Although his physical therapy ended in August, John continues to do daily stretching and exercises to keep his spine aligned and hips and legs loose. And, if something starts to hurt, he knows what to do.

“I was stubborn before and thought I could handle it myself. I suffered a long time before deciding on physical therapy,” he says. “I’m not going to wait so long the next time!”

Read more about the physical therapy program at UPMC Centers for Rehab Services.

Meet Mac

After suffering a massive stroke the day after Father’s Day 2012, Mac woke up in the ICU to the words, “You’re lucky to be alive.”

Mac’s entire right side was paralyzed from the stroke but he was determined to walk again. After several weeks in the hospital, he began therapy at CRS Chapel Harbor where he re-learned how to pick up small items, place things on a shelf, put items in the refrigerator, and drive a car simulator. He eventually learned how to walk with a cane and use the elliptical and treadmill.

Read Mac's Full Story

“Everyone who participated in my rehabilitation worked me very hard,” said Mac. “I received physical and occupational therapy during the day and then I’d continue doing exercises on my own at night. This served me well because I regained my strength and I can drive myself again, which is a huge relief.”

Mac’s therapists taught him exercises and stretches that he could do at home, so that he could regain his former abilities and get back to doing what he enjoys. As a community outreach liaison for the Woodland Hills School District, Mac connects the school with the parents and the community.

“My CRS therapists came to my school and explained to my colleagues and the schoolchildren what had happened to me,” said Mac. “We then demonstrated the exercises they had me do during therapy, which taught the children about rehabilitation after a stroke. I was so impressed that my therapists took the time to come to the school to teach the kids and show them what I’m going through.”

In the mornings before school begins, Mac now walks up and down the hallways for exercise. He credits all of his doctors and therapists for the progress he has made since his stroke.

“The key to a successful recovery is to keep pushing yourself and telling yourself you can do it,” said Mac. “But having great therapists like mine really makes all the difference. I’m lucky to be alive, and lucky to have received their care.”

Read more about the physical therapy program at UPMC Centers for Rehab Services.

Meet Maria

Maria, 58, a mental health therapist, has spent most of her life battling foot problems.

"When I was a young girl, I developed a plantar wart on my left foot that had to be operated on,” recalled Maria. “My foot developed a propensity for weakness following that surgery.”

Read Maria's Full Story

Due to being flat footed and not wearing proper footwear over the years, Maria tried using shoe supports but the problems still did not go away. With two torn menisci and arthritis in both knees, the pain was continuously increasing. Maria also developed plantar fasciitis, which involves pain and inflammation in the thick band of tissue that runs across the bottom of the foot and connects the heel bone to the toes.

“I wanted to avoid medications and corticosteroid injections to reduce the pain,” said Maria. “My podiatrist suggested physical therapy at UPMC Centers for Rehab Services’ McCandless location and the experience was wonderful.”

Maria worked with a team of four physical therapists who taught her exercises that she could do at home. Since Maria didn’t own the large rubber bands needed for certain exercises, her therapists modified the exercise so she could get the same resistance using a wall.

“I really enjoyed my therapists’ team approach to care,” said Maria. “They were all so positive and encouraging to me, and all the patients around me as well. There’s such a nice atmosphere at CRS.”

Since her therapy ended, Maria has kept up the exercise momentum by swimming several times a week. She has lost some weight and can now walk pain-free.

“My little dog, Charlie, may have been the happiest with the results of my therapy,” joked Maria. “Now I’m able to take him out for walks every day.”​

Read more about the physical therapy program at UPMC Centers for Rehab Services.

Meet Terry

Never one to shy away from a challenge, Terry, 60, has always put maximum effort into anything he set out to do. A lifelong athlete, Terry plays basketball and tennis, and participates in bodybuilding. He attributes his back problems to overuse since he has always played sports at a high level.

In November 2015, Terry had two coflex devices implanted to keep his spinal column stable after surgical decompression; in lieu of having the vertebrae fused, which can limit movement. Two weeks after surgery, Terry started physical therapy at UPMC Centers for Rehab Services’ Butler - Pullman Square location.

Read Terry's Full Story

“I’ve always been an overachiever with my exercises so I quickly learned that I needed to tone it down during rehab or I wouldn’t recover properly,” said Terry. “My physical therapist, Lynn, was very supportive and great to work with. I can be stubborn and expect a lot out of myself so Lynn helped manage my expectations and kept me on a good road to recovery.”

Terry is happy with the results of his back surgery and he’s already begun lifting weights again, just three months after surgery.

“I’ve lived with pain my entire life because I’ve always pushed myself hard in sports, but that pain always went away,” said Terry. “Recovery is slower as I age but I’m determined to get back to my old self again, minus the chronic back pain. The therapy at CRS has really helped with that.”

Read more about the physical therapy program at UPMC Centers for Rehab Services.

Meet Kathy

Athletics and unique ways to stay active have always played a large part in Kathy’s life. From roller skating as a child to synchronized swimming as a teenager to modern dance as a young adult, Kathy, 68, now stays active by walking her dog and playing pickleball, a racquet sport that combines elements of badminton, tennis, and table tennis.

When Kathy was still experiencing difficulties years after having ankle surgery, her physician referred her to Scott, a physical therapist with UPMC Centers for Rehab Services. He helped her recover from that injury so that she could get back to a more active lifestyle. The many years of physical exercise wore on Kathy’s hip, so once again, she reached out to Scott for physical therapy at the CRS Butler - Pullman Square location.

Read Kathy's Full Story

“My goal is to not have any surgery on my hip,” said Kathy. “Scott and the rest of the staff at CRS are helpful, competent, knowledgeable, professional, and I always have plenty of time with my therapist so that I can accomplish my goals.”

In order to rehab her hip, Kathy does various standing and bench exercises, hip raises, and bicycling. Scott’s recommendations for home exercises work well for Kathy.

“I try to stay active. That’s the key to everything,” said Kathy. “When you’re young, you do it for fun. As you get older, you do it because you want to keep moving. The physical therapy at CRS is helping me stay active.”

Read more about the physical therapy program at UPMC Centers for Rehab Services.

Meet Bill

Bill’s life was turned upside down when he received the news that he was going to have his right leg amputated above the knee. The 65-year-old avid hunter and fisherman had suffered from compartment syndrome due to a blood clot that prevented blood flow to his leg.

Following discharge from the hospital, Bill was unable to walk without assistance and realized he’d have to reinvent himself if he was going to get back to working in his wood shop and doing other activities that he enjoys.

Read Bill's Full Story

“Initially, I was very unsure and a bit fearful,” he shared. “I didn’t want to be a burden on anyone but I really wasn’t sure how I was going to manage.”

Bill was referred to Dan Corso at the UPMC Centers for Rehab Services’ Butler - North Main Street location.

“Dan and his team help me understand what I’m doing and, more importantly, why I’m doing a certain exercise,” said Bill. “I trust them and can tell they really care about me. They’re a really good crew and are always willing to help.”

Bill’s recovery process will take some time but he takes in faith in knowing that he is at the right place and he’s doing what it will take to reach his goals.

“I have and will continue to recommend Dan and UPMC CRS to everyone and anyone.”

Read more about the physical therapy program at UPMC Centers for Rehab Services.


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