Kim's story

Over a five-year period, Kim Bourgeois worked exceptionally hard to shave off more than 225 pounds.  She thought the weight loss would help relieve pressure on her aching joints. While the 53-year-old felt good about the weight loss, her joints felt differently. After years of being overweight, the pain was so bad, she required a walker for mobility and regular injections for pain relief. The medication also calmed her allergies. But after years of pain and with her knees continuing to fail, the Harvey, Louisiana resident opted for surgery.

Kim had bilateral knee replacement surgery, by Dr. Gustavo E. Godoy, at Ochsner Medical Center – West Bank. She requested a transfer to Ochsner Rehabilitation Hospital because she heard good first hand reviews of former patients.

Upon admission, Kim told her rehabilitation team that the goal was to return home and be completely independent. After all she had herself, her mom and a special needs sister she had to care for – plus Kim would need to climb stairs to gain entry to her house. The team assessed Kim and mapped out a plan to help Kim achieve her goals.

Therapists focused on increasing her knee range of motion, strength, endurance and balance so that she could feel comfortable getting in and out of bed, walking and going up and down the stairs. Kim said leg stretches were the hardest exercise since they caused discomfort, but they were incredibly helpful allowing her to bend her knee and regain her range of motion. Seeing progress fueled Kim into showing up each day with determination and a desire to reach her goals, even if when she didn’t feel her best.

Taking care of herself and family was top of mind for Kim so she embraced activities to build those daily living skills. Therapists trained Kim on bathing and dressing. They worked on navigating household mobility with proper posture and body positioning while retrieving and placing items. Pain created a few hurdles with certain movements, but Kim’s therapists worked with her on modifications for dressing and taking rest breaks when needed.

Kim wasn’t alone during therapy, her mom and sister were instrumental in her recovery, encouraging her therapy and learning how to help Kim, once she arrived back home. Her sister had a good understanding of Kim’s plight, she too had knee replacement, so the challenges were familiar.

After one week, Kim reached her goals and was ready for discharge. She increased her range of motion in both knees, improved her balance and was confident with walking without a walker and in climbing stairs.

Today, Kim is independent and constantly on the go. She returned to work three weeks after she left the rehabilitation hospital and is in an outpatient therapy program, where she rode a bike for the first time since she was 14 years old. She also built on the activities she learned at Ochsner Rehabilitation Hospital and now regularly walks on a treadmill and climbs up/down stairs by the river. She recalls a year ago, it hurt to go up three steps, and now she tackles 27 steps in addition to squats.

Kim had an epiphany during her recovery; she can do whatever she puts her mind to. Her advice to others in a similar situation, “have faith and believe in the therapists, they will take care of you every step of the way.”