Patient Success Stories

The road to recovery starts here! Learn more about us from our patients.

Brian Ahr

I've played soccer since I was three years old. Due to an unrelated back injury, I knew that my senior high school season would be my last of competitive soccer. My goal was to finish my high school season without injuries, and of course, win the state championship.

Things were going well. I only missed a few games at the end of the year due to my back injury and we entered the playoffs undefeated. During the first half of our state quarterfinal soccer game, I hit knees with another player and went down to the ground. I looked at my knee and knew the injury wasn't good.

Our team trainer and doctor immediately came onto the field and told me my patella (kneecap) was dislocated. I was lucky they were able to put it back in place immediately and helped me off the field, but I really thought my final soccer season was over early.

We won the game that day and I made it my goal to play in our state semi-final game only six days away. My doctor set up physical therapy at SSM Health Physical Therapy first thing on Monday morning. When I walked in, I was limping badly, not bending my knee.

After just one session of physical therapy, I left in a more normal walking pattern. I went to physical therapy every day that week and the therapists helped me perform knee range of motion exercises and use modalities to help with the pain and inflammation. By Wednesday afternoon, I was jogging and doing box jumps. By Thursday evening, when my coach had to decide if I could play the next day, I was able to participate in a full soccer practice while wearing my knee brace.

I owe my success in being able to play again to the therapists who worked with me to meet my goal and my doctor who followed my progress every day. And yes, I went on to play the entire game in both the state semi-finals and finals. But the best part is that we won the State Championship!

photo credit: Will Bramlett


Joseph Weber

On June 6, 2019, I entered the ER for help to evaluate my condition of falling. My legs would tingle, then tighten, then go numb and I would fall without notice. After many tests, X-rays, MRl scans, etc., further examinations were needed by specialists. Injection specialists said I could not be helped and surgery was recommended. A surgery date was set for August 27, 2019, and was successful, removing built up arthritis for the nerves to expand and function. However, an infection set in and another surgery was scheduled. After mending in the rehab hospital, I had surgery in the lower back to mend a disk that had broken off and rods and supports were screwed into the pelvis. I went back to the rehab hospital before a final surgery in my neck to add supports and clean out arthritis. This improved my balance tremendously and I finally was released on December 15, 2019.

It was so good to be home; however, I could not walk! I made improvements with home care therapists, but I was not walking independently. In February 2020 I was approved by insurance to address more physical therapy. Jennifer Schukar was assigned as my therapist. I told Jennifer my goal was to walk again. I was in a wheelchair, then a walker at the time.

Jennifer is an excellent therapist for me. She knows what is needed based on my condition and has selected and organized a set of therapeutic exercises. She helped me to build strength, balance and to hold my weight for walking. Slowly but surely, we made steps to achieve my goal.

I remember vividly that day she wanted me to use a cane. She demonstrated different ways the cane can be used. I followed her directions and I was walking on my own. What a day!

I can’t thank Jennifer enough for her encouragement, praise, patience, professionalism and interest in me as a client. In working together, I have achieved much since those days at the hospital. Thank you, Jennifer! - Joseph Weber


Ed Rahe

I would like to thank all of the staff at the SSM Health Day Institute in Arnold who made my first post-amputation walk on the beach possible. They know who they are! I would like to give a shout out to my primary therapists, Gretchen, P.T., and Alysia, O.T. It definitely takes more energy, coordination and strength to walk on a sandy beach. You folks got me there. Next year, parasailing.

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