Get Barb's physical therapy story

“If you want a doctor who’s conversational, who really listens to you and tries to get you back to what you love, I’d recommend Dr. Doperak every time.” –Kay

When the COVID-19 pandemic meant Kay could no longer work face-to-face with her physical therapy patients, she knew it was time to retire. At 70 years old, Kay is as active as they come. A former pediatric physical therapist (her patients ranged from infancy to age 3), she’s been practicing Scottish country dancing for 25 years.

Thanks to UPMC Orthopaedic Care and the UPMC Freddie Fu Sports Medicine Center, osteoarthritis pain hasn’t stopped her from doing what she loves.

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Let’s Make It Happen

“I absolutely loved my career in pediatric physical therapy and miss it already,” says Kay. “It does require you to be very active and mobile, but I’ve kept up with that through dance.” From hip pain to stiffness in her hands, Kay has seen several doctors at UPMC Orthopaedic Care over the last decade. But nothing quite compared to her experience with a trio of UPMC doctors at UPMC Sports Medicine who helped her overcome hand, hip, and knee pain. She is particularly grateful to primary care sports medicine doctor Jeanne Doperak, DO, who skillfully guided her recovery from a knee injury. “Dr. Doperak was amazing. She and her team were all about helping me be able to dance and live — they said “Let’s make it happen” instead of telling me to slow down,” says Kay.

Finding the Right Care

At a family picnic in 2019, Kay twisted her right knee. It didn’t feel great, she says, but it wasn’t alarming. So, Kay braced the knee herself. While waiting to see if the knee would heal, she attended a Scottish country dance camp. But it became clear the knee pain wasn’t going away; that’s when she headed the UPMC Freddie Fu Sports Medicine Center where she was seen by Dr. Doperak.

“If you want a doctor who’s conversational, who really listens to you and tries to get you back to what you love, I’d recommend Dr. Doperak every time,” Kay says. “She worked with me throughout my recovery as a partnership, as I believe doctors should because the patient is part of the team.” After hearing Kay’s symptoms, Dr. Doperak ordered an MRI. The results showed significant osteoarthritis in the right knee, which had “flared up” when Kay injured it.

A Treatment Plan Fit for Her

Dr. Doperak developed a treatment plan to help Kay recover while continuing to be active. The treatment would consist of a series of platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injections coupled with a prescription for an arthritis medicine. In PRP therapy, blood from the patient is spun in a device that separates platelets and plasma from other blood components. The platelets are injected in the problem area to promote healing. “It hurts for a moment, but it’s very quick and worth the results,” says Kay.

Kay described her knee joint as feeling “full” and a bit sore for a few days after each injection (she had three). She was able to ice it and continue doing things that felt good to her. “It’s a few weeks before you really feel the results, but you definitely notice when it’s working,” says Kay. “Within a month, I felt 90% better and was dancing without thinking of the pain.” After a follow-up visit or two, she was well on her way to doing everything she loved but without pain, including playing on the floor with her grandson, traveling, and dancing.

Moving Beyond Pain

“Kay is so dynamic, and we are so happy that she was happy with the outcome,” says Dr. Doperak. And thanks to her team of orthopaedic experts, this retired physical therapist isn’t slowing down any time soon; she’s ready to dance with her team once again.

To learn more or schedule an appointment, please visit UPMC Orthopaedic Care or call 1-866-987-6784.

About UPMC Orthopaedic Care

When you are dealing with bone, muscle, or joint pain, it can affect your daily life. UPMC Orthopaedic Care can help. As a national leader in advanced orthopaedic care, we diagnose and treat a full range of musculoskeletal disorders, from the acute and chronic to the common and complex. We provide access to UPMC’s vast network of support services for both surgical and nonsurgical treatments and a full continuum of care. Our multidisciplinary team of experts will work with you to develop the treatment plan that works best for you. Our care team uses the most innovative tools and techniques to provide better outcomes. We also are leaders in research and clinical trials, striving to find better ways to provide our patients care. With locations throughout our communities, you can find a provider near you.