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A Journey of Recovery at Aspirus St. Luke's Chequamegon Clinic

Category: Patient Stories
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Rhonda Sundburg and Jacey Janz-Vernoski, DPTPublished in Bottom Line News and Views, January 2019 issue

After years of pain, Rhonda Sundberg knew it was time to have her second knee replaced. “I was stiff, dealing with arthritis and trying to manage it with medication,” said Rhonda. “Something more needed to be done.”

Familiar with the surgical process from her first knee replacement in 2017, Rhonda had a good idea of what lay ahead of her.

Local physical therapy

Rhonda was happier to take on her new knee when she learned that St. Luke’s Chequamegon Clinic had started offering physical therapy. “I was thrilled,” she explained. “I’m a patient there and the clinic is close to Bretting Manufacturing where I work. It was really convenient for me.”

St. Luke’s was able to add physical therapy to their services after the 22,000-square-foot clinic was built along the north side of U.S. Highway 2 in the spring of 2018. The space features state-of-the-art equipment and a picturesque view of Lake Superior’s South Shore.

The journey of recovery

Starting the very next day after her surgery, Rhonda began physical therapy with Jacey Janz-Vernoksi, DPT. The first few weeks included mostly pain management and swelling control. Then, Jacey began to help Rhonda work on her range of motion and build back her strength. Eventually, Rhonda progressed to riding a stationary bike, balance work and directional exercises like bending, squatting and stairs.

“The hardest part of physical therapy was working on my range of motion,” Rhonda said. “But Jacey did a great job of helping me through. She was a very good judge of what I could and couldn’t handle.”

Rhonda met with Jacey at St. Luke’s Chequamegon Clinic three times a week for six weeks. On the days she didn’t see Jacey, Rhonda was committed to the home exercise program Jacey had given her.

“Some people get frustrated at slow progress, but Rhonda was great,” Jacey said. “It takes time to rebuild the strength. People want to get better right away, but it definitely takes some patience.”

The full-length recovery for a knee replacement is typically a year, but most recovery happens in the first three months. Patients can often go back to work after 8 to 12 weeks.

Looking forward

With her first knee feeling great after almost a year of recovery, Rhonda looks forward to her second knee healing just as well. “I’m so excited to walk the golf course without any pain,” Rhonda said.

Jacey looks forward to Rhonda’s full-recovery as well. “I love helping people and seeing their progress,” Jacey said. “It really motivates me to see how happy patients are when they can do the things they love again.”

St. Luke’s Chequamegon Clinic has been offering physical therapy since July of 2018. To view a full list of services at St. Luke’s Chequamegon Clinic go to