For years, Deborah Criscione had favored her right knee due to an increase in pain that left her limping and unable to drive. After a diagnosis of osteoarthritis, a degenerative joint disease, in which the tissues in the joint break down over time, she received cortisone and gel injections. 

“Before moving into surgery, my orthopedist, Anthony Delfico, MD, recommended a course of physical therapy,” said Deborah. “I started going to Valley’s outpatient physical therapy at 1200 East Ridgewood Avenue for ‘pre-hab’ in February 2022.”

Pre-hab is a physical therapy program before joint replacement surgery. From February to April, the Pearl River, NY native worked with physical therapist, Manny, to strengthen her knee and educate her about the muscles of the knee.

“At my very first visit I was welcomed by staff and felt confident they could help me,” said Deborah. “My pre-hab prepared me for my total knee replacement and put me on track for a good surgical recovery.”

After her total knee replacement in June 2022, Deborah returned to outpatient rehab. 

“I looked forward to returning to physical therapy because I knew I had excellent support there, ready to help me in a positive and caring atmosphere,” said Deborah. “In addition to exercises performed both there and at home, as my rehab progressed, I was taught to use several pieces of gym equipment, along with stretching exercises, resistance bands, range of motion, stair climbing, cold therapy, and therapeutic massage. Manny’s knowledge, experience, guidance, patience, and encouragement enabled my excellent recovery and return to active living.”

A huge part of Deborah’s life is attending her granddaughter’s – Addison Porod, an Irish dancer – dance competitions. During the period before surgery, Deborah was unable to travel to Addison’s major competition in Ireland, as well as other competitions within the United States. Four months after her surgery, Deborah was able to travel to Ireland to see Addison perform.

“There is no question that without the surgery and extensive physical therapy, I would not have been able to travel,” said Deborah. “I was disappointed to miss her event in the spring of 2022 but had a joyful return to my place on her support team. I have since made that trip to Ireland a second time, as well as a family cruise that summer together. Pre-hab prepared me for surgery and the post-op outpatient rehab prepared me to re-enter a busy life!”

But the story for this family does not stop there. 

Addison began Irish dancing in the first grade and now dances five days a week. When the 14-year-old developed pain in her heels due to the power of the sport, an X-ray revealed inflamed growth plates in both heels, known as Sever’s disease. 

Sever’s disease is a common cause of heel pain, particularly in young and active people while they are growing. 

“I started to ice more frequently, put inserts in my shoes, and was told to start physical therapy,” said Addison. “My doctor explained the pain would likely remain until I finished growing and the plates had closed. I was not going to stop dancing— I couldn’t—especially as I was preparing to compete abroad. Valley’s outpatient rehab was my answer.”

Like her grandmother, Addison spent time with Manny at Valley’s outpatient rehabilitation center. From the fall of 2022 to the spring of 2023, Manny worked with Addison to strengthen her feet and legs to decrease the pain and pressure in her heels. They worked on stretching, Kinesio taping, therapeutic massage, and more. She was even given a plan to continue at home. 

“Manny was always patient and encouraging, and I looked forward to my appointments because I was feeling better and everyone there made it fun for me,” said Addison. “I love learning and laughing and that is exactly what happened with Manny. I learned so much about the human body and knew as a competitive dancer that I was getting stronger, which would allow me to compete at a much higher level.”

During this time, Addison never stopped dancing. Even though she kept using her body, she continued to get stronger. Since she completed physical therapy, she has competed in about 10 competitions and soon plans to compete in “Worlds” in the spring of 2024. 

“Valley made a huge difference in my life,” said Addison. “They took something scary and converted it into something I looked forward to doing. Manny invested time in learning about my sport to help me overcome challenges. I am so grateful for everyone at Valley and everyone, including Kimberlee Jo, a business associate, who felt like a treasured friend by the end.”

As for Addison and her grandmother, they both are grateful to Valley’s outpatient rehabilitation team for getting them back to traveling the world for dance and being there for one another.

“I can’t imagine traveling or competing without my Grandmommy as she understands my passion and obsession for dance,” said Addison. “Having just been through physical therapy herself, she knew how important but also scary it was for me. She is one of my best friends.”