For Debra Preedy, it started out last September as just a normal night of sleeping on the edge of her bed.
And then, the 61-year-old rolled out of bed.
“I was sound asleep and had a silly accident,” she said. “I fell out of bed onto my hardwood floor. I fell square onto my right shoulder. It felt like hitting cement. My husband Frank jumped right out of bed and told me not to move. He wanted to make sure I didn’t break anything,” Debra recalled.
While nothing appeared broken, her right arm real hurt and she could not lift it.
Enter orthopedic surgeon Scott Doroshow of St. Luke’s Orthopedic Care in Quakertown, who specializes in surgery of the shoulder and knee. He ordered an MRI that showed an acute traumatic tear to the rotator cuff in her right shoulder.
“When you have a traumatic tear of the rotator cuff, that’s when you want to have it fixed early,’ Dr. Doroshow said. “If you don’t, you can have fatty atrophy of the rotator cuff where the muscle no longer is being used and it replaces the muscle with fat, and that can lead to the muscle not regenerating totally.”
The rotator cuff is a group of four tendons that makeup the main muscle of the shoulder that moves your arm. She did damage to all four tendons, but completely tore the supraspinatus, the tendon responsible for lifting the arm.
Dr. Doroshow performed a minimally invasive procedure using arthroscopic surgery to repair the tendon. By making a few small incisions into the shoulder and filling it with fluid, he inserted the proper surgical tools, along with a camera. The image inside was displayed on a large TV screen so that he could see the procedure exactly without the need to make a big incision into the shoulder. He used anchors and permanent stitches to complete the repair.
Then came the hard part.
Debra, who works in the Bucks County District Courts, was out of work for three months. She wore a sling with an immobilizer pillow on it almost 24/7 for six weeks, and began physical therapy with JoAnn Redmond, PT, DPT of Physical Therapy at St. Luke’s in Quakertown just one week after the surgery.
“After people have rotator cuff repairs, they come to physical therapy having been told they are not allowed to move their arm,” Dr. Redmond said. “They’re in an immobilizer, and we take it out of the immobilizer and start moving. I think for a lot of people, that’s a scary thing. Our job is to guide them through the rehab process and help them feel confident with their recovery. Debra was a great patient. She had a good attitude and was very motivated.”
“She was excellent,” Debra said of Dr. Redmond. “Dr. Doroshow picked JoAnn for me. He said she was the best with the shoulder and she truly was. Dr. Doroshow was giving me instructions as well. I followed everything they told me to do. I exercised during physical therapy, and then they told me to rest it the rest of the time because everything had to adhere.”
Trying to remain in a comfortable, pain-free position while asleep was a challenge. After about 10 days, the pain settled down and Debra slept better.
Debra was cleared to go back to work on Jan. 2 with a full range of motion in her shoulder and the restriction that she could not lift more than two pounds.
“The important thing about physical therapy is that we empower our patients to get better,” Dr. Redmond said. “It’s a big part of what we do, to make our patients independent in managing their own recovery. We need to make them confident and guide them in what they do.”
In May, she finally returned to the spin cycling classes she loves so much with no pain,
“Now I go about my normal business because it doesn’t hurt at all,” she said. I’m very lucky and very pleased. I know that some people don’t get this type of recovery.
“Dr. Doroshow is a wonderful doctor and explained everything to me in terms I could understand. I have not met many doctors like him. He was concerned about my recovery. I would recommend him in a second if someone needed a shoulder or knee surgery. He’s young and up on all the newest techniques. “