Richard LaFerney’s Story

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Richard on top of the #1 podium after a Brazilian Jujitsu tournament.

On April 21, 2014, Richard LaFerney’s life changed forever. He suffered a devastating injury and faced years of recovery. But, in the end, Richard would receive a priceless gift for never giving up.

His story begins at an auto shop, where an average day at work suddenly takes a terrible turn. A car, that was accidentally shifted into drive instead of reverse, pins Richard against a steel oil drum. The nerves in his leg were severed; an artery destroyed. After a month in the hospital and countless surgeries, the immediate danger was over and the long road to recovery could begin.

Richard’s first three months of physical therapy at another facility were fruitless. They didn’t have the right equipment or experience to help. Richard became depressed, the pain was excruciating, and he began to think he’d struggle to walk for the rest of his life. Then came a recommendation to try the therapists and cutting-edge technology at Advanced Physical Therapy Center.

Katie, Jessica, Charles, Bret and Brian are just a few of the therapists Richard trusted during his sessions at Advanced PT. The progress was slow, and weeks of therapy turned into months. But soon, it became clear to Richard, he was in the right place. He noticed the pain in his leg was going away, which helped him attack his appointments with new found determination. Richard believes the positive atmosphere and the technology available at Advanced PT, like the HIVAMAT and Alter-G Treadmill, helped him tremendously along the way. Eventually, Richard was able to walk cane-free and now, he’s doing things he never dreamed possible.

At home, Richard’s biggest inspiration is his son, Trent. The battle to recover was all for him. Today, they participate in Brazilian Jujitsu together and Richard even laces up his skates to hit the ice with Trent’s hockey team. While looking around Advanced PT in Grand Blanc, Richard revealed, “Without this, I wouldn’t be a part of my son’s life. I’m available now. I wouldn’t have been able to do that without Advanced PT. I’d still be on the sidelines.” Before his accident, Richard was working 60 to 70 hours a week, which limited his time with Trent. Now, he understands how important that time is. It’s a gift given to him after years of hard work, with a little help from Advanced Physical Therapy Center.

Looking to the future, Richard says his experience at Advanced PT has him thinking about becoming a physical therapist. He wants to be on the other side of recovery now, giving people their lives back.

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Karen Mulcahy’s Story

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Susan Hall, PT with Karen

“I am a believer in PT.  If it’s offered to you, you should take it and take as much as you can have. It can only do good. And you’ll meet some really great people in the process, people who will help you on your journey.”

Karen Mulcahy knows all about physical therapy. Advanced Physical Therapy Center has been making a difference in her life for over six years. Her APTC story began when she started having knee trouble. The therapists helped until it became clear, she needed to have her knee replaced. Her first knee replacement surgery was in 2012. It would be her first of three. After each surgery, APTC made her stronger and got her back on her feet. But then, a devastating diagnosis: MRSA. Karen was left with an unthinkable choice. Amputation or risk a worse, possibly deadly infection.

To Karen, the choice was to live, and live a long time. Karen’s right leg was amputated in June of 2016. After the surgery, Karen came back to Advanced Physical Therapy. She had to learn to walk on a prosthesis and build her strength, one more time. Susan Hall, PT, had helped Karen in the past.  “She’s ruthless,” Karen reveals. “She doesn’t let you get by with anything.” But Karen also credits Sue with getting her through the worst of it, each time.

Just as Karen was getting used to her new way of life, her husband had a health scare of his own. In a rush to see him, before he underwent surgery for a heart problem, Karen fell. A broken hip landed her in the hospital bed next to his. He went home a few days later. She went to a rehabilitation facility to recover from a total hip replacement.

In April 2018, Karen came back to APTC. Determined to fight, she started down the tough road to recovery, once again.

On Therapy Days, Karen says, “I’m ready. By the time I get here I’m locked and loaded. Chug, chug, chug to get through therapy. I feel like I’ve accomplished something. I might be tired, but I’ve accomplished something. Sometimes its 2 steps forward, 3 steps back. But you keep going. You have to live your own story. How you choose to do that is totally up to you.”

Karen has tried other therapy centers and has even tried in-home therapy. But, she says nothing compares to APTC. She believes in the therapists and appreciates the variety recovery options available at the Clio clinic. Karen uses the mats and the weights and once she’s completed her doctor prescribed round of therapy sessions, she always follows up with APTC’s “Step Down” program. It provides people like Karen access to APTC’s gym facilities, so she can continue to work on what she learned during her therapist led treatment.

Karen’s prosthetic leg is painted with the message, “What a long strange trip it’s been.” The line, from the Grateful Dead song is one Karen relates to. She says, “I have not walked this path alone. People along the way helped me…Hard things come a long and I shed a lot of tears, but I made it…Now, if I can just continue and get this (hip) healed up. But, I’m not giving up.”

Karen still works with Sue to improve her gait and strengthen her hip. She hopes her story will inspire others to keep pushing, never give up and pay it forward when it’s their turn.

“People say – you are such an inspiration and I could never do what you’ve done. I say – you could, you just don’t know it yet. I didn’t have a choice. I wasn’t going to just sit down and die.”  – Karen Mulcahy, September, 2018