Charles’ story: I made huge progress physically and psychologically

There is considerable evidence that a person’s general health including their psychological health can affect their outcome after orthopaedic surgery. Charles’ story here describes the importance of addressing these psychological barriers to recovery, and how these can be addressed as part of an integrated physical rehabilitation programme.


I would like to start off by describing my condition at the point when I first met Gurpreet and his team. I had been in tremendous pain for the last two years due to my osteoarthritis which had left me with hardly any use of my legs and due to the agonizing pain I was on twenty-one tablets a day and nearly all of these were painkillers. Over the last two years I had had two operations to replace both my hip joints.

After the operations the relief from the pain was fantastic but I was depressed because after the initial pain relief, I found that my joints were stiff and I was still struggling to walk and move around as well as still being in some pain from my operations. I had spoken to the registrar and doctors but felt that the information I was receiving was telling me that I had to accept that I was out of pain but I was never going to be able to move around and carry out everyday tasks as I used too.

On my first appointment for physiotherapy I met Gurpreet and Alice (my student), my first impression was that although they appeared very jovial and friendly which made me feel relaxed they were also very direct in what you wanted me to do and what I should be able to do. The small tasks they asked me to perform like touching my toes from a sitting down position were like major obstacles for me as it had been so long since I had even attempted to stretch down there due to pain and stiffness of my joints. As I attempted each of these tasks they pointed out to me how I was tensing up and using my arms to prop myself up instead of using my legs. This happened in every task, and they informed me that I was using all the wrong muscles for the tasks because psychologically although unaware I had actually adapted myself to protecting my legs by not really using my leg muscles at all.

By the end of my first session I found that not only was the stiffness going out of my legs but the pain was being relieved at the same time. I found this unbelievable that after such a long period of stiffness and pain I was actually having this amount of relief after a single one-hour session. On leaving the hospital they gave me some exercises to do at home and to come back to them after four days. I did these exercises at home and on my second appointment I told them that I couldn’t believe the difference in my leg movement. I felt like they had brought me on so far in such a short period.

By the end of my second appointment and home exercises I found that I was starting to move around my house so much easier and the stiffness and pain was almost gone. I still can’t believe that so much progress can happen in such a short period although the evidence is there for me to feel every day. I would like to thank them for the psychological affect they have had on my depression as well as the physical affect they have had on my overall condition. I now feel that I am in a position to progress myself without any further physiotherapy. I feel the whole positive feeling I now have is due to the positive way in which they both motivated my mental state as well as my physical state.

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