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Sondra — Physical Therapy Patient Story

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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.

“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.

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.​