Jo Kieswater
"The number one thing that helps people get through rehabilitation is determination," says Jo. "You have to want to do the exercises to actually do them and succeed."

Getting back into the groove after a total knee replacement

Jo Kieswatter, 88, is an active and independent woman who lives on her own, does her own banking, grocery shopping, and cooking.

An avid traveler, Jo journeyed all over the country for several years in an RV with her husband. Despite feeling pain in her knees, she insisted on sharing the driver's seat.

"I don't ask for help for things I know I can do myself," says Jo.

Jo looked after her husband, a WWII veteran, for many years and it took five years after his death for her to focus on helping herself. After years of ignoring the intense pain in her knees, Jo decided to undergo total knee replacement surgery.

Two days after her surgery, on November 6, 2009, Jo was admitted to the Musculoskeletal (MSK) rehabilitation program at St. John's Rehab at Sunnybrook - the same hospital her husband was referred to 25 years earlier after undergoing surgery.

At St. John's Rehab, an interprofessional team works closely with patients to develop individually customized goals. Dietitians, doctors, nurses, occupational therapists, pharmacists, physiotherapists, and the Sisters of St. John the Divine were all instrumental in helping Jo achieve her goals.

"I want to drive again! I also want to dance down the street. I really miss dancing," says Jo. "It was very important that I regained my independence. With the help of my rehab team, I was confident that I could achieve my goals."

Jo participated in therapy sessions every day during her stay, strengthening her leg and knee to allow her to walk easier. Although balance exercises were tough due to pain in her right knee, Jo pushed on. She often told the nurses that she wanted to walk without assistance, because when she returned home, she would not have nurses around to help.

"My family calls me stubborn. I'm not stubborn, I'm determined. You have to be positive and prove to others that you can do it," says Jo.

Though the Musculoskeletal program is quick and efficient (usually 7 to 10 days), Jo walked out of St. John's Rehab without the use of a wheelchair or walker only a few weeks after surgery.

Jo would like to thank her team and all of the other staff that assisted in her recovery. "The staff at St. John's Rehab genuinely care about each and every patient. Their kindness and support has allowed me to recover so well and quickly. I thank them for giving me back my independence and life."