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UBMD Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine Helped Laurie Kearney Get Back on Her Feet After a Life-Altering Accident


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June 18, 2024

“Oh my gosh, I am 200% improved [after my knee replacement surgery]! I have my legs back, like when I was 35. I know I can’t do everything I used to, but I’m not far from it at all.”

Kearny Knee On ChairNow a 62-year-old bus driver for her former school district, Laurie Kearney was quite the athlete in her youth. She grew up on a farm, and played softball and hockey, in addition to running and skating. She competed in several school sports, and later completed in the Darien Lake Triathlon and won.

Tragically, when she was 35, Kearney got into a life-altering head-on accident one morning on her way to work. Another driver had swerved around a dead deer and ran straight into Kearney’s car, resulting in a wide extent of medical issues since that time. On the night of the accident, Kearney saw Mark J. Anders, MD, and had four surgeries. Afterwards, she was told no more impact activities, and that if she did any more impact on her ankles, she would never walk again.

In the years since, Kearney still worked out, used the elliptical, rode her bicycle and lifted weights. She lived 21 years with the aches and pains of arthritis, while trying to stay as active as possible. However, once she had ankle surgery at age 56, she realized how bad her knees really were. She was then referred to Christopher E. Mutty, MD, who performed one knee replacement for Kearney in 2020 and the other in 2021.

Recently reflecting on her journey from before and after her knee replacement surgeries, Kearney shares some of her experience, talks about the care she received from Dr. Mutty and offers advice for other people dealing with similar knee issues:

Did your original care with us bring you back to seek care from Dr. Mutty?

Yes, I stuck with UBMD Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine through it all. I had Dr. Ritter do my ankle surgery, and Dr. Clark did a few back surgeries on my husband. Dr. Clark referred my husband to Dr. Mutty for leg pain, and he had a hip put in back in November. I feel like I’m part of the UB family now.

For your knee specifically, what was the diagnosis and what was the recommended treatment?

When they took the first X-ray, it was bone-on-bone in both knees. They were completely shot and needed to be replaced. Dr. Mutty told me the left knee would need to be done first because it bowed out so bad when I walked. He said, “I’m going to have to bring that leg back and straighten it out.”

Can you tell us about the trust that was built with Dr. Mutty?

Dr. Mutty has a good bedside manner, and he’s really personable. I did my own research on the internet prior to my appointment to be able to ask him intelligent questions. He did what he needed to do, and I did what I needed to do. I have had nothing but good experiences with him.

Is there anything you are doing now that you were not able to do prior to the surgery?

Just being able to walk up and down the stairs with my own body weight used to put a large amount of pain in my knee. It was painful even just to walk. I used to have to limit my bike rides because my knees would only last so long. They were that bad. I didn’t realize how much pain my knees had until they put my ankle in, then I really understood what my knees felt like. When Dr. Anders put my foot back together, I was 35. He showed me the X-ray. He took bone and cartilage out of each joint and said, “you are bone-on-bone right now, and you have arthritis at 35.” I lived with that as long as I could stand it.

Do you still have any current limitations?

I did lose some flexibility. But if you saw me from a distance, you would never know I went through what I have. Dr. Mutty said, “don’t run on it.” Even the nurse said, “people make the mistake and think it’s their original body part, and it’s not. You still have to take care of it.” I don’t do any running or jogging on it or anything like that. The biggest thing with the knee is a little stiffness, but I can probably bring them up and get 140 degrees out of them.

What was the best part of your experience with UBMD Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine?

The nurses were great. Dr. Mutty even called my home after the surgery to check on me. I had a great experience with everyone.

How has the knee replacement surgery improved your life?

Oh my gosh, 200% improved! I have my legs back, like when I was 35. I know I can’t do everything I used to, but I’m not far from it at all. For the pain I lived with before, I didn’t realize how much pain I was really in. I think they should have pre-hab to exercise people prior to surgery. The better shape you are in before, the easier it is to come out of it.

Is there anything you are actively doing to prevent re-injury?

I go to the gym every day. I do the elliptical probably six days a week. If it’s nice out, I will ride my bike outside. We rode 25 miles the other day. I eat a salad each day to get my greens in, and I drink lots of water.

What advice would you give to those dealing with a knee injury?

Go and find out how far along it is. Don’t do any impact activity. Use the bicycle and elliptical, and make sure to stay active. If you have to have your knee replaced, don’t be afraid of it. It does hurt, but once you get through the first week or two, it is so worth it. Just keep bending it and moving it. For anyone having surgery, always remember to move as soon as possible and that ice and elevation are a must ! Exercise, eating right, hydration and sleep are also a must!!