Finishing up Physical Therapy at Windom Area Health, Lisa Farag of Windom, MN, was then given the option to continue improving with 8 free weeks of post-rehab appointments through the Bridge the Gap program at the Wellness Center.

Pictured: (From Left) Lisa Farag and Lindsey Englar, Certified Personal Trainer, enjoying a walk on the Be Well Path at Windom Area Health.

“It was challenging, but it really helped so much.”

The First Surgery

In March of 2021, Lisa had her first total knee replacement in Mankato and chose to attend Physical Therapy at Windom Area Health (WAH).  “It was local.  I didn’t want to be driving an hour plus twice a week, so that was a big reason.  And I knew Mitch and Joel because they play basketball with my son,” Lisa explained.  She worked with Joel Riordan and Carmin Johnson through physical therapy.  “They were tough on me!” she said, describing an exercise where she used her post-surgery leg to pull herself on a rolling stool. “They kept saying, ‘Come on, you can do it!’  And I did!”

After physical therapy, Lisa was given the choice between a free month of membership at the Wellness Center or going through Bridge the Gap, a free 8-week program.  “I chose Bridge the Gap.  I knew that if I had done the one month, I wouldn’t show up.  So by setting up the weekly appointments, I had to be held accountable.”

Bridge the Gap

Bridge the Gap is a post-rehabilitation program offered at the Wellness Center for patients who have had total knee or hip replacements and then had their physical therapy through the Rehabilitation Department at WAH.  Those who go through Bridge the Gap work with Lindsey Englar, Certified Personal Trainer and Wellness Center Supervisor.  “The program consists of sessions twice a week for eight weeks,” Lindsey explains, “and we work on strength, form, and improving any gait deviations.” 

The Bridge the Gap program was started in March of 2021 as a partnership between the Rehabilitation Department and the Wellness Center.  Each patient’s Physical Therapist sends a referral with basic exercises that the patient is cleared to do upon finishing traditional rehabilitation along with any restrictions.  “We start based on those recommendations and then we build onto the exercises as I see improvements in muscular strength and endurance.”  Lindsey adds, “I also send progress notes to the patient’s Physical Therapist at the four week and eight week marks so they’re kept up to date.  Additionally, if there are any questions or concerns that I or the patient have, it’s great to be able to call and speak with their PT and work together to get things answered.”

“I’ve worked with 30 Bridge the Gap clients so far, with two coming through the program again for subsequent surgeries, like Lisa.” 

Lindsey and Lisa Elliptical Workout
Pictured: (From Left) Lindsey working with Lisa on an elliptical workout in the Wellness Center.

Support and Motivation

Lisa went into the Bridge the Gap program the first time with the goal of returning to regular walks.  Lindsey brought her outside onto the Be Well Path and it was the first time since her surgery that she had been out walking.  “For some reason I was just terrified to do it.  My surgery had been in March so this was in May.  I mean, that little hill out there might not look like much, but Lindsey was there encouraging me, saying, ‘Come on, you’re halfway!’”  They started out slowly, but Lindsey pushed her and Lisa appreciated it.  “I need that push.  Lindsey would have me do something and I would think, ‘There’s no way I can do that! Why are you making me do that?’  And then I went ahead and did it and couldn’t believe it.”  She laughed and added, “I remember Lindsey’s famous quote: You can do anything once!”

Being able to do the program through the Wellness Center came with a sense of support.  Lisa’s sessions would be at 7:30 or 8:00 in the morning and she got used to seeing familiar, friendly faces.  “Everybody in the Wellness Center was so nice. It was so cool because you just felt like part of the crew and I enjoyed it a lot.”

Preparing for Second Surgery

Upon completing Bridge the Gap after her first surgery, Lisa took the summer to get a lot of walking in.  “I did really well, but I started noticing my right knee was getting more and more painful.”  When she knew she would need to have a replacement on her right knee, Lisa signed up for Personal Training sessions in preparation for the surgery.  “It was a couple weeks before the second operation and I got in as much as I could.  When I had my surgery that September, I felt more ready for it.”

After the right knee replacement, Lisa went through the recovery process again: first Physical Therapy, then Bridge the Gap.  “The second time wasn’t as grueling as the first.  I was more faithful doing the exercises the second time.  The first time I was like ‘oh, it hurts.’  But the second time I knew what it took to get through it.”  Lisa could also tell that her time working with Lindsey prior to the surgery had her physically prepared, as well.  “When I was working the new knee, the right one, it didn’t feel as bad because that left one was solid because of what I had done with Lindsey.  Not like before when I still had the weak leg along with the healing knee.”

Personal Training

When her second round of Bridge the Gap was over, Lisa signed up for additional sessions of Personal Training with Lindsey.  “When I was with her, she would watch my form and correct me if I was doing anything wrong.  Every step of the way she told me exactly what I needed to be doing.  She would give me numbers and times so I knew what speed to be at or what I was aiming for and it helped a lot.” 

“The best part of doing the program and training was the encouragement that I got from Lindsey.  I would never have done it on my own.  Never.”

Pictured: The equipment on the Be Well Path was commonly used in Lisa’s sessions in Bridge the Gap and Personal Training.

In turn, Lindsey also enjoyed working with Lisa.  “Lisa was great to work with, and easy to instruct. It was fun getting to watch her realize how much she could accomplish and the progression she made from doing basic squats and lunges at the beginning to doing modified burpees, plank walk-outs, and incline pushups during our last training sessions. I look forward to working with her again and helping her reach her wellness goals.”

Looking Forward

After some time off, Lisa is looking to get back to training sessions with Lindsey.  She’s also been working on her hobbies, such as crafting, scrapbooking, card making, baking, and healthier cooking.  With cooking, she’s noticed a difference since finishing Personal Training.  “I ate and cooked healthier when I was working out with Lindsey!  It’s like I know how to cook this stuff, but it’s really just trying to focus on it.  It’s hard to do it in just one aspect of your life.”  Looking forward to her future plans, Lisa has been getting ideas of activities she’d like to start trying. “I’ve been watching some videos on pickle ball.  It looks interesting, so that’s in the back of my mind.”

Lisa is continuing to see the benefits from her work with her Physical Therapy team and Lindsey.  “I’m able to do a lot more stuff.  I live on the 3rd floor and I take the stairs a lot.  I couldn’t have done that before.”  She knows it will take more time for her knees to fully heal, but she’s thrilled with where she is at.  “It’s going to be 1-2 years before they’re totally good, but the pains are nothing like they used to be.  Nothing at all.  When they say it’s a different pain, it really is.”

Advice for Total Knee Replacements

When asked what advice she would give to those who are going through a knee replacement, she recommended choosing Bridge the Gap and to follow through with the exercises from Physical Therapy and the other programs.  “You don’t just have surgery and are fixed.  It would be great if it worked that way, but it’s a process.”

“Keep moving!”

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