My name is Renee Vande Laarschot MS, PT and I’m the Joint Journey Physical Therapist at Stevens Point Orthopedics. I work closely with Shawn Dombrowski, the Joint Coordinator, to provide care for individuals who are having a joint replacement surgery.

Prior to joining SPO in February, I worked at St. Michael’s Hospital and have over 20 years of experience, including extensive experience working with total joint patients. 

What does your job entail?

I meet individually with patients who are planning to have a joint replacement surgery, along with their “coach,” a few weeks before their surgery to help prepare them. During this meeting, I have the opportunity to get to know each patient, learn about their current limitations, and long-term goals after surgery.

It is very important to be as strong as possible before surgery. Because of this, I educate patients on muscle strengthening and range of motion exercises they’ll need to perform before and after surgery. We’ll also talk about realistic expectations regarding pain, mobility, and what to expect after surgery and during recovery. 

If needed, I’ll also assist patients in acquiring medical equipment—walker, cane, toilet riser, commode, or a bath bench. This equipment is available to purchase at SPO, which allows patients to obtain items they may need during their visit and have one less thing to worry about before surgery. Lastly, this meeting allows me to individually discuss and address any questions or concerns patients have. 

If a patient is having surgery onsite, at the Ambulatory Surgery Center, I will be a familiar face for them to see after surgery and while assisting with mobility. I’ll also see them for their first physical therapy session before they go home. During the session I’ll review and assist with exercises, ensure safe mobility and that the patient feels comfortable going home, and answer all questions and concerns.

I’ll see a small number of patients as they return for their outpatient physical therapy as well. During these post-operative physical therapy sessions, I help them regain strength, range of motion and function, and assist patients in returning to doing the things they love! 

One of my favorite parts of a joint replacement is getting to celebrate with patients at our bi-annual Joint Journey Celebration. At these celebrations, the Joint Journey team—physicians, physician assistants, physical therapists, medical assistants, Shawn and myself—come together to celebrate each joint patient’s hard work and accomplishments.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

I enjoy having the time and opportunity to get to know each person individually and help guide them through their Joint Journey. It’s very rewarding to watch patients make progress and see the smiles on their faces as they improve and return to doing the activities they enjoy.  

What do you enjoy most about working at SPO?

Ultimately, I enjoy working at SPO because of the positive work environment. We all work together towards the same goal—providing all patients with a very personalized and exceptional healthcare experience.

The highly skilled physicians and excellent co-workers also make being part of the SPO team very exciting. Being under the same roof as the physicians is very helpful and convenient as it allows us to have excellent communication. They are only a few steps away if questions or concerns come up.

I’m thrilled to be part of this team and am happy to serve patients with all of their joint replacement needs!