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  • Gabby Reece Recounts Rehab After TKA in Move Forward Radio Interview

    Gabrielle "Gabby" Reece is a former pro volleyball star, a TV personality, model, and bestselling author. She's also the owner of an artificial knee, and a patient who resolved to work her way through knee replacement surgery with plenty of physical therapy and no postsurgery drugs. And what Reece would like people to know is that the opioid-free journey she's making toward recovery is not just for high-achieving superathletes—it's for anyone willing to apply mindfulness, patience, and persistence to their own health goals.

    The latest edition of Move Forward Radio features an interview with Reece that focuses primarily on her ongoing recovery from the knee replacement surgery she underwent in April, 2016. Reece first rose to prominence as a standout professional beach volleyball player, and was Nike's first female spokesperson. These days, Reece appears as a host on NBC's STRONG, a fitness-based program, and serves as a spokesperson for Plan Against Pain, a national campaign that educates the public on the availability of nondrug approaches to pain treatment postsurgery.

    During the interview, Reece speaks candidly about the challenges of the physical therapy she is participating in, the factors that led her to make a conscious decision to take on her rehabilitation without the use of drugs, and the potential for a wide range of individuals to choose a recovery path that involves minimal reliance on painkillers. Here are a few highlights from the interview:

    On our culture's "quick fix" mentality around pain: “I understand the quick fix mindset. It’s fun. It’s really marketable. But I think in everyday life, I don’t know anything that happens quick too often. And I think it’s not realistic for us to really think that a pill or something is just going to take care of it. I mean, in no other place in our life does that exist."

    On having unrealistic expectations after surgery: "For most of us, once we get the thing fixed, whatever our issue was, we think, OK, we should be good now. But because we’re a whole being, the rest of the body has compensated. That’s what gets us in trouble is, ‘well, I should be better by then.’ And when you’re not, then you’re disappointed, frustrated, worried. So I also went through that about 4 times. I thought I was going to be doing ballet by month 2, and that wasn’t really realistic.”

    On accepting feelings of uncertainty about recovery, but never giving up: "Listen, anytime any of us are dealing with an injury or something, illness, the other side of that is the emotion of fear of ‘Is this going to be better,’ or ‘Is this going to be OK,’ or ‘Am I at least going to be able to function.” … For me it was like, 'OK, this is the road to feeling better so I’m going to stick to it. I’m going to be rigorous about pursuing it and take some responsibility and see how good I can get it.'”

    APTA is raising public awareness about the risks of opioids and the benefits of physical therapy via its #ChoosePT campaign, which includes TV and radio public service announcements, national advertising, and free resources at MoveForwardPT.com/ChoosePT.

    APTA members are encouraged to alert their patients to the radio series and other MoveForwardPT.com resources to help educate the public about the benefits of treatment by a physical therapist. Ideas for future episodes and other feedback can be emailed to consumer@apta.org.

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