Patients at Shelbourne Knee Center maximize their recovery and function through physical therapy that’s specialized, personalized and convenient. Shelbourne Knee Center is the only orthopedic practice in Indiana that has on-site physical therapists and athletic trainers, each of whom specializes in knee problems, and an on-site gym. “Specializing enables us to provide expert and consistent care,” says Sarah Eaton, PT, DPT, ATC, LAT.
Eaton is one of eight physical therapists (PTs) and athletic trainers Shelbourne Knee Center:
- Darla Baker, PT DPT ATC/L
- Scot Bauman, PT DPT
- Laura Bray-Prescott, PT/LATC
- Jennifer Christy, BS
- Bill Claussen, MPT
- Rachel Krupski, PT, DPT
- Emma Sterrett, LAT ATC
Research-Based Physical Therapy
The PT protocols, continually refined based on decades of ongoing research, focus on pre-op, post-op (for surgical cases) and home-based therapy. Pre-op PT became part of Shelbourne Knee Center’s system for optimizing surgical outcomes in 1989, after research on ACL reconstruction patients revealed the importance of full range of motion (ROM) and returning the knee to a normal state (except for the ACL tear) before surgery in a good outcome1.
“Most orthopedic surgeons don’t deem pre-op physical therapy to be beneficial. They tell patients that it probably won’t work. We’ve proven that pre-op physical therapy improves outcomes,” says Eaton.
Collaboration Between PTs and Physicians
Close collaboration between the physical therapists, athletic trainers and orthopedic surgeons—K. Donald Shelbourne, MD, and Rodney Benner, MD—helps optimize outcomes. Physical therapists and athletic trainers are part of initial patient visits with Dr. Shelbourne or Dr. Benner. They know each patient’s medical history and diagnosis and have easy access to the orthopedic surgeons for consultations.
“Because we work so closely with the physicians, we have a clear picture of exactly what’s going on, and can develop a customized physical therapy treatment plan,” says Eaton.
Each patient works with the same physical therapist or athletic trainer throughout treatment, and he or she stays with the patient during every appointment. This enables patients to develop therapeutic relationships with their physical therapy provider, facilitating compliance.
Borrowing a concept from oncology and transplants, the physical therapists and athletic trainers also serve as patient navigators, guiding patients through the entire process, including:
- Educating patients about their role in a good outcome
- Preparing patients mentally, emotionally, physically and socially for surgery (when surgery is part of the treatment plan)
- Coaching patients through pre-op and post-op rehab
“We want our patients to be as well informed as they can be. If they know what they're supposed to be doing and why they’re supposed to be doing it, they’ll have better outcomes,” says Eaton.
With physical therapists, athletic trainers and a gym on-site, patients can start PT right after seeing Dr. Shelbourne or Dr. Benner. Then, patients complete most of their PT at home, with guidance from their PT provider and periodic visits to Shelbourne Knee Center.
Along with convenience, the home-based therapy enables patients to do more PT, facilitating optimal outcomes. Most PT practices see patients in their clinics three or four times a week. Due to insurance restrictions, PT only lasts a few months and is usually only ordered after surgery.
Shelbourne Knee Center’s home-based therapy enables patients to do pre- and post-op PT and to stay under the PT provider’s care for up to a year or so. Most patients are seen:
- About 2–3 times pre-op
- About 7 times post-op over about six months
All physical therapists and athletic trainers are involved in Shelbourne Knee Center’s research and in developing rehabilitation protocols. Eaton and her colleagues share research results with the field at professional conferences, such as national and regional conferences of the American Physical Therapy Association. “We want everyone to have education and be empowered to help their patients get the best knee care,” she says. In 2018, Shelbourne Knee Center hired another physical therapist to provide everyone on the PT team with more time to conduct research.
For more information about our physical therapy program, please call 888-FIX-KNEE.
- Angie Biggs, Walter L. Jenkins, Scott E. Urch, K. Donald Shelbourne. Rehabilitation for Patients Following ACL Reconstruction: A Knee Symmetry Model North Am J Sports Phys Ther. 2009;4:2-12.