From physical therapy to surgery and back, a patient can cope with osteoarthritis when her grandchildren motivate her.

Sally Murphy: Rehab restores life

Image Sally Murphy Charlottesville Ortho Surgery Image Sally Murphy Charlottesville Ortho Surgery Image Sally Murphy Charlottesville Ortho Surgery

For Sally Murphy, physical therapy has made all the difference in restoring her quality of life. Since moving to Charlottesville with her husband in 2008, Sally has worked with Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital physical therapists Susan Heald and Ellen Oswalt through knee replacement, rotator cuff repair and, most recently, shoulder replacement surgeries.

“They are my people,” says Sally, 68. “They have been seamless in their approach. When I faced my surgeries, they provided me with a huge level of comfort and assurance. They gave me back my life.”

Daily challenges

Sally, who has hereditary osteoarthritis, knew she needed to pursue surgical options when pain and stiffness in both shoulders made the simplest daily tasks --—from putting on a jacket to reaching into a cupboard – difficult. She gradually had to slow down her active lifestyle, which included volunteering weekly at the local chapter of the American Red Cross, working the election polls and helping remodel their beach house in Delaware. Even more distressing was the inability to pick up her youngest grandchildren, two of whom she babysat several times a week.

“The babysitting and frequent weekend slumber parties with the grandchildren gradually came to a halt,” says Sally, who moved to the area to be near her two adult sons, daughters-in-law and five grandchildren. Physical therapists Susan and Ellen encouraged Sally to see orthopedic surgeon Stephen Gunther. “I had never heard of a shoulder replacement,” Sally recalls. “Dr. Gunther treated me with kindness, humor and respect. I had no doubt about his skills and knew I would be in great hands.”

Moving once again

Since having her rotator cuff repair in January 2014 and her shoulder replacement in April 2014, Sally is once again playing with her grandchildren, doing yard work and resuming her volunteer activities.

“Recovery takes hard work and perseverance, but the staff offered encouragement that I’d get through it,” says Sally. “My experience at Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital has been extremely positive. Everyone was accessible, and they are user-friendly, from reception to surgery to discharge. I was always greeted with a smile.”


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