Dennis' Story

Dennis wearing gray polo shirt standing outside and smiling.

Dennis Madl has lead an active life. He attended the Air Force Academy and served in the military for 24 years. He furthered his education at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) where he studied astronautics and began a career in aircraft and electronics, later working in finance. Life outside of work involved time with his wife and three children.

Dennis’ active lifestyle became difficult to maintain once he tore his meniscus (knee cartilage). Doctors recommended surgery, but Dennis declined preferring to hold off and avoid interfering with his work and travel schedule. For years, he delayed surgery and said, “I compensated with shots for pain and a less active lifestyle.” The damage to the knee, however, increased over time and the shots became less effective. When COVID-19 hit and ceased most travel and sent people home to work remotely, Dennis decided it was the ideal time to think about surgery.

Dennis underwent a total knee replacement on his left knee in September. His original plan was to start physical therapy immediately after surgery and discharge home with home health services before possibly transitioning to an outpatient center later. However, that did not happen. After further evaluation, Dennis’ medical team instead recommended he continue his recovery at Select Rehabilitation Hospital of Denton for medication management and aggressive rehabilitation.

After his admission, Dennis was expecting to return home in just a few days, receive three weeks of home health services, no longer need his walker or cane and be pain-free. Once again, things did not go as he expected. He acknowledged, “My expectation was not realistic.” He began a regimen of occupational and physical therapy in hopes of returning home as quickly as possible and getting back to his life before surgery.

In occupational therapy, Dennis focused on basic tasks that were proving more difficult after surgery, including showering and grooming, upper and lower body dressing and transfers to bed or toilet. Occupational therapists also helped with therapeutic interventions to get him moving again and improve tolerance for standing and performing daily activities. They worked on increasing Dennis’ endurance and functional mobility with a rolling walker allowing for more independence and helping him to prepare to return home.

Dennis' physical therapy began with foundational mobility activities such as bed mobility training, standing and learning to safely transfer from one surface to another to reduce his fall risk. Physical therapists also focused on helping Dennis to walk longer distances with a rolling walker over indoor and outdoor terrain to help simulate what he might encounter at home and in the community.  Stair training and left knee range of motion exercises were performed to help normalize Dennis’ gait pattern. His therapists also utilized equipment such as the SCIFIT recumbent stepper to improve endurance, strength and range of motion and knee extension.

After 10 days, Dennis was discharged home fully independent for all activities of daily living and walking. He began outpatient physical therapy services to continue improving his strength and endurance. Five weeks after his surgery, Dennis reported that his pain was well controlled, he was driving again and getting around on his own. He is thrilled that his dream of being able to live his life without concern for his knee is becoming a reality.

Looking back at his surgery and recovery, Dennis only wishes he had done it sooner. He admits rehabilitation was harder and more involved than he expected, but he is grateful for the active life he is once again able to achieve and for the services Select Rehabilitation Hospital of Denton provided during this recovery.