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Medal-Winning Recovery

Champion golfer back on the course after hip replacement with Lehigh Valley Orthopedic Institute

Noreen Mohler, Champion golfer back on the course after hip replacement with Lehigh Valley Orthopedic Institute

Golf has been a part of Noreen Mohler’s life for almost as long as she can remember. She began playing with her father as a child and was playing competitively before she started high school.

“I was about 12 when I started playing in tournaments, and at that time, I was one of the few female golfers in my age bracket,” says Mohler.

Mohler played golf throughout high school and college, and she even passed on her love of the game to her son, who played in high school and college. It was through her son that she learned about the golf performance training classes with Frank Lupin, certified athletic trainer and strength coach, offered at Coordinated Health Bethlehem–2030 Highland Ave., part of Lehigh Valley Orthopedic Institute.

Though initially the classes were meant for her son, both Mohler and her husband signed up for classes as well. She credits the golf performance training with not only improving her game but helping alleviate some of her orthopedic issues. 

Good form and fun

After Mohler’s children were grown, she returned to golfing and threw herself into training for senior tournaments. However, lower back and hip pain kept her from training as much as she wanted and needed. She made an appointment with Wayne Luchetti, MD, orthopedic surgeon with LVPG Orthopedics and Sports Medicine–2775 Muhlenberg, who diagnosed her with degenerative hip joint from overuse.

Luchetti told her she would most likely need a hip replacement at some point but could try a more conservative approach first. She turned to Lupin to find ways she could alleviate pain while playing and postpone the inevitable surgery.

“One way we were able to help Noreen was by evaluating her movement using the Titleist Performance Institute’s physical screen, to see where her deficiencies were. Once we identified them, we were able to stretch and strengthen the muscles that needed it,” says Lupin.

Mohler says that while the training helped improve her game and put off her surgery for almost a year, ultimately, she knew that in order to continue to play golf at the level she wanted, she would need to have a hip replacement.

A family affair

Mohler admits that although she was nervous about the surgery last February, she couldn’t have been happier with the results. She was up and moving around within just a few hours of surgery in order to prevent swelling and promote mobility within the joint, and she was home just a few days later.

“I was definitely surprised to see how quickly my rehabilitation began after surgery,” says Mohler. “I think the fact that I was active prior to the surgery definitely helped.”

Mohler’s physical therapist was a familiar face, Leslie Lupin, physical therapist, who is Frank’s wife.

“It was great having Leslie do my PT, because I knew that she and Frank talked about what would be best, and they really worked together,” says Mohler.

For the first few months following surgery, Leslie focused on exercises that would help build muscle and increase circulation to the legs and feet. The goal was to improve overall hip function. After a few months with Leslie, Mohler was ready to begin her golf performance training with Frank again.

Back on the green

As soon as she regained her strength and flexibility, and could swing a golf club, Mohler was back in her golf performance training classes regularly.

“She was definitely eager to resume golfing,” says Frank. “We started off slowly and built back up from chipping to using her driver.”

According to Frank, they focused on the physical components of her swing mechanics in order to prevent future injury. They also did a lot of stretching and core activation that targeted the hip, abs, shoulders and upper back. The goal was to ensure that she was able to golf without pain or further injury.

Five months after her surgery, Mohler was back on the course and ready to compete. Since her surgery a year ago, she has regained much of her top form, finishing fifth in the PA State Senior, ninth in the Women’s Eastern Golf Association championship and fourth in the prestigious North & South Senior Championship in Pinehurst, NC.

Even after her recovery, she still takes part in the golf performance training classes and recommends it to fellow golfers. “It’s a great way to improve your game and talk to fellow golfers. A lot of times you’ll learn something in the course of talking to someone else than can help improve your game as well,” says Mohler.

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