Lockport woman goes from unable to walk to pain free

11/17/2014, 10:43 a.m.
Elizabeth LaFollette credits her ability to walk and return to work to corrective surgery and physical therapy she received at ...
Lockport resident Elizabeth LaFollette can now walk pain-free with the help of therapy she received from Rich Bryniarski, a physical therapist with the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago at Silver Cross Hospital in Homer Glen.

Silver Cross Hospital in New Lenox provided this news story:

For over 14 years, Lockport resident Elizabeth “Liz” LaFollette suffered from severe back pain. During this time, she had multiple surgeries to relieve the excruciating pain.

She was doing well until last September when she started experiencing foot pain. By December, she was unable to walk. It was then determined that LaFollette was suffering from a failed Lumbar fusion surgery and SI (Sacroiliac) Joint Dysfunction, which was causing pressure on her sciatic nerve leading to severe left leg pain, weakness and gait instability.

After enduring yet another surgery, LaFollette was stressed and depressed because she was not able to work for eight months and was faced with the overwhelming task of completing a long physical therapy rehabilitation program.

“My therapist, Rich, gave me the hope that I desperately needed. If it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t have my life back. He saved my health and my career,” LaFollette said.

Dr. Anthony Rinella performed a revision surgery to correct a failed spine fusion to alleviate her pain. He referred her to the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago at Silver Cross Hospital in Homer Glen for physical therapy.

RIC has been ranked the No. 1 rehabilitation hospital in America by U.S. News & World Report every year since 1991. The same specialized care that has earned RIC its pre-eminent reputation is available at four Silver Cross locations in Homer Glen, New Lenox, West Joliet and at the hospital.

"Since Liz's condition was unique, I knew she would receive high quality therapy at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago at Silver Cross Hospital in Homer Glen," said Rinella, board certified spine specialist with the Illinois Spine & Scoliosis in Homer Glen.

When LaFollette’s physical therapy started in March, she was doubtful that she would ever work again. However, through the encouragement and tools she received from her therapist Rich Bryniarski, she conquered her fears and was working and walking pain-free by August.

"At 41 years old, even after four surgeries, I was not ready to be considered disabled for the rest of my life," LaFollette said. “Rich was as invested as I was in getting me to work again. Through his vast knowledge, he knew how to place my body to show me how to do exercises that would relieve my pain."

Key to Success: Personalized Treatment Plan

LaFollette believes the specialized treatment plan that Bryniarski designed specifically for her was the key to her success.

"Not only did Rich teach me stretch exercises to do at home, he taught me how to align my SI joint and condition my body so my back won't take the hit from all the pressure from my body movements," LaFollette said.

"Rich also goes the extra mile to help his patients. He actually had me bring my court reporting machine to therapy to simulate my work day, so he knew what my body was going to experience daily. He was able to customize my therapy exercises so I could do them throughout my work day."