Getting Back in the Swing: Elizabeth Higgins Shares Her Story


When Elizabeth Higgins first came to newsletter-2physical therapy for her right hip she thought it was related to some low back pain that she had had intermittently over the past few years. Just a few sessions with Bill Cioffredi, PT was enough to indicate to Bill that something else was going on. Bill suggested that the source of her pain could be caused by osteoarthritis in her hip, and that she should consult her physician about getting x-rays. “At that time I didn’t think it was possible that I could need a hip replacement, but Bill’s assessment was correct,” said Elizabeth. “I needed a total hip replacement, and in January of this year I had the surgery.”

If surgery wasn’t hard enough, a few weeks after the procedure Elizabeth dislocated her new hip, bringing her rehabilitation to a crossroads. “Suddenly I was back on crutches, limiting my activity with very specific restrictions on how I could move,” recalled Elizabeth. “By the time I was able to restart physical therapy, this time with Marsha Wykes, PT, OCS, Cert. MDT I was very weak from not just the surgery, but from the limited activity after the dislocation. I remember being very nervous about beginning to move again. With that in mind, Marsha was amazing. Her warmth immediately put me at ease and the depth of her knowledge and experience was readily apparent. My confidence in her knowledge only grew as she answered all of my questions and skillfully modified exercises to meet my specific needs.”


“Starting off with Marsha I could only walk with a cane for about 20 minutes at a time, and I couldn’t sit for more than an hour without increasing my pain,” said Elizabeth. “Stairs were particularly difficult as was bending to reach low shelves. I told Marsha that my goals were to be able to return to working full-time as a nurse, to return to my hobby of west coast swing dancing, and to learn how to take care of my hip. In retrospect, I have met those goals and more.”

“I was amazed by how difficult the few simple exercises Marsha had me performing were,” said Elizabeth. “Yet with each visit I grew stronger, and was given new challenges. Soon, I didn’t need the cane and began walking up and down stairs normally. Marsha always knew when I was ready for the next step, and would explain exactly what I should do at home between sessions. She guided me in increasing my activities at home, and in pacing my return to work, all while patiently answering my many questions. At times I felt discouraged, but she always was quick to encourage me and remind me of just how much progress I had made. Additionally, all the rehab aids helping her were just as wonderful, and always greeted me with a smile. They genuinely cared how I was feeling, and skillfully helped me work on my rehab plan. When it came time for my last session with Marsha I had not only recovered from my hip replacement, but I was stronger than I’ve ever been. People were telling me that I moved like a younger person.”

In order to continue her quest to maintain her level of function needed to work and dance, Elizabeth made the transition to our Medically-Based Personal Training program with Personal Trainer Richie Hackett, BS, CSCS, ACSM EPC, NSCA CPT. “Knowing Richie’s qualifications and knowing that my care would continue from Marsha to him made me very comfortable,” said Elizabeth. “Richie listened carefully to my needs and we established new goals together. One was to continue to strengthen my hip, but I also wanted to increase my core and upper body strength in order to do my exercises more effectively; building off of what Marsha had helped me achieve.”

“Working with Richie has made a huge difference in my overall fitness. In just a few sessions I noticed my upper body strength had improved. In the past I had tried to improve my strength using workouts from various magazines or DVDs without much success. With Richie he showed me exercises to do, and exactly how to do them for what my needs were. That is what made the difference; a customized approach.”


“I appreciated his knowledge of how muscles work to support anatomy and function and his attention to detail. He expanded on the work I began with Marsha, and added fun new challenges as I progressed. Richie always listened to my needs, asked what was working for me, and was friendly and encouraging.”

Elizabeth’s third step here at Cioffredi & Associates was setting up some nutrition counseling appointments with Holly Westling, RN, MS, CNS. “I knew that improving my diet would improve how I felt, but I was very confused by all the conflicting information I had read,” said Elizabeth. “Like all the providers Holly began by listening to my goals, explained the role of diet on inflammation, and created a food plan that was easy for me to follow, complete with recipes that took into account my likes and need for simplicity. Within days I felt better and began to lose weight, which I know slows the progression of osteoarthritis and a host of other health issues.

In general, Elizabeth says that while having a hip replacement was difficult, it was the best thing she’s ever done. “The providers at Cioffredi’s have made a true improvement in my life. I give many thanks to Marsha, Richie, Holly, Bill and all of the staff at Cioffredi & Associates.”