What to Expect When You’re Expecting Orthopedic Surgery: Part III

Kara battleropes training

Join us as we follow HSS athletic trainer Kara Federowicz through her journey of orthopedic surgery. This is the final installment of a three-part series discussing coming back from orthopedic surgery.

The 6-month mark of my post-op recovery and rehabilitation is right around the corner. What they say is true: time really does fly when you’re having fun. Here’s a breakdown of what I’ve learned throughout this remarkable experience, and what I continue to strive towards:

  • The buildup and anticipation towards the date of my surgery inspired me to dedicate myself to my overall health goals.
  • Prehabilitation and the work I put in before the surgery is what set me up for success post-operation. I had to look at the situation with the glass half-full and decide that I was not going to be defeated. So I never stopped. Before surgery I got as strong as I could, kept going, and prepared for the best.
  • I did everything that was prescribed for me but I also wasn’t afraid to push myself and try new things. I stayed within a safe zone, but I still managed to exceed what was expected of me. Always listen to the advice of your physical therapist and physician, and stay within the parameters they set for you, but don’t hesitate to tell them if you want to challenge yourself. Together you can create a plan that inspires you to reach your potential while maintaining your precautions.
  • I continued to teach my clients about the strength of their bodies and the power of their mindset, and I continued to learn about my own.
  • I learned to treat other people how you would want to be treated. I understand what it means to walk in someone else’s shoes and to overcome obstacles.
  • No one said it would get easier, but I got stronger. Now I go to physical therapy 3 times a week, swim 2-3 days a week, spin or cycle 4 days a week and use the elliptical. My strength and conditioning routine includes lateral steps, 8-inch step ups and step downs with dumbbells, deadlifts with a barbell, physioball curls and core work. If you get the okay from your physical therapist and physician, you might consider adding a certified trainer to your wellness team. A qualified trainer can help you establish a routine for your level of fitness, encourage you, and make sure that you’re maintaining good form for safety. It feels wonderful to set and reach new goals!
  • The recovery process can be a chance to get excited about exercise in a new way. In a couple of weeks I will begin to run again. I can’t wait and I never even used to like running. It’s one of those things where when something is taken away from you, you just want it back – that’s what running is to me right now!

My motto throughout my rehabilitation has been, “If it isn’t challenging me, it won’t change me.” I’ve had to recondition my brain to tell my body that I can do these things, and I encourage you to do the same in your own journey of wellness and recovery. And remember “it’s not a stop in the road, it’s just a detour.”






Kara Federowicz is a certified athletic trainer at the Tisch Performance Center at Hospital for Special Surgery. Kara has a degree from Penn State in kinesiology, the scientific study of human movement. This material is adapted from the personal blog Kara kept to record her experiences throughout her recovery.

The information provided in this blog by HSS and our affiliated physicians is for general informational and educational purposes, and should not be considered medical advice for any individual problem you may have. This information is not a substitute for the professional judgment of a qualified health care provider who is familiar with the unique facts about your condition and medical history. You should always consult your health care provider prior to starting any new treatment, or terminating or changing any ongoing treatment. Every post on this blog is the opinion of the author and may not reflect the official position of HSS. Please contact us if we can be helpful in answering any questions or to arrange for a visit or consult.


  1. Hi Kara
    Thanks for writing about your experiences.

    I am due for a Tibial Tubercle Osteotomy on 7 April and I am curious about the immediate recovery. I asked my surgeon whether there are any exercises to do in the 2nd, 3rd and 4th weeks, and he pretty much said ‘no, focus on chilling out and being non-weight bearing’, once the bone heals I can focus on building up my strength and flexibility.

    But surely there are some little things that are safe to do!?

    What was your experience in the first 1-4 weeks?

    1. Hi Ashley, thank you for reaching out. Kara Federowicz, Athletic Trainer, says: “It’s great that you want to be proactive about your recovery. Everyone is different and it’s important to follow your physician’s instructions. My suggestion would be to call your physician’s office and tell them that you want to be active in some way during your first 4 weeks after your surgery and that you need to know what exercises would be safe for you to perform. If you’re looking for specific exercises, you can also schedule an appointment with one of our performance specialists here at HSS. The best way to reach us is by calling 212-606-1005 or emailing SportsPerformance@hss.edu.”

  2. Hi

    I read your posting and thank u. I am having the op in 2weeks and was extremely concerned and nervous. U posting have help relieve my stress. I hope when I have the op I can correspond with you. I am in Perth Western australia. Linda

    1. Hi Linda, thank you for reaching out. We’re glad to hear that our article has been beneficial to you. We wish you the best!

If you’d like to consider HSS for treatment, please contact our Patient Referral Service at 888-720-1982. For general questions and comments, reach us on Facebook or Twitter.