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Personal trainer now stays physically fit without pain—thanks to Northwell and Operation Walk USA

We teamed up with a charitable organization to help Ty get the knee replacement surgery he needed.

Smiling man in his mid-40s with a beard and tattoos, riding a stationary bicycle.
Ty Peck is back to enjoying the athletic life at his gym near his home in Mamaroneck, NY.

Ty Peck relies on being physically fit to make a living—the 45-year-old is a personal trainer who works with private clients in Westchester, New York. He stays active by lifting weights, mountain biking, hiking and playing golf.

However, last year an old injury to his right knee became so painful he knew he needed to seek medical help. “While I've been athletic my whole life, I’ve been dealing with a football injury since I was 17,” said Ty, adding that he had total reconstructive knee surgery as a teenager. After a couple of years of rehabilitation, he played one year of football in junior college. “I probably shouldn’t have because my knee wasn’t that great, but I wanted to prove to myself that I could come back from a severe injury,” he said. After that, he pursued boxing and had a few bouts in the amateur circuit until his knee pain prevented him from doing so.

Through the years, Ty experienced lingering arthritis but stayed active by modifying his activities. Orthopedists told him he would need a knee replacement, but advised he wait until his 50s because the replacement joint would wear out—making a repeat procedure necessary during his lifetime.

But waiting became increasingly unlikely. Ty’s knee pain started to interfere with his sleep, and he couldn’t be on his feet for long. As a result, he lightened his training schedule. Then in June of 2017, Ty and a friend went hiking at Breakneck Ridge, near Cold Springs in the Hudson Valley. “The trail is straight up for about the first half-mile,” he said. “I was taking big deep steps, and my knee was just obliterated. The pain so was severe, I knew I needed a knee replacement.”

Unfortunately, Ty didn’t have health insurance. His concerned mom Googled “free knee replacement,” and found Operation Walk USA. The organization helps uninsured people receive primary total hip or knee replacement surgeries free of cost. Preoperative clearances and postoperative care are also offered at no cost to eligible candidates.

Ty applied to the program in July and heard back in November that he was accepted. “And we just went from there,” he said. “It was kind of crazy how quickly everything happened.”

Smiling man in his 40s standing in front of gym equipment.
Ty is grateful for his care team at Northwell and Operation Walk USA.

Ty scheduled a consultation with Giles R. Scuderi, MD, an orthopedic surgeon at The Orthopedic Hospital at Long Island Jewish Valley Stream, which is a premier destination for orthopedic care. “Dr. Scuderi was super confident about total knee replacement surgery and being able to get me back on my feet, so I put all of my trust in him.”

On February 20, 2018, Ty had the procedure, which took a couple of hours. “I think that while the operation was straightforward, once Dr. Scuderi got in there, he saw that the damage was really severe,” he said. “I had really bad post-traumatic arthritis.”

A couple of hours after the surgery, Ty met with physical therapists who helped him walk up the hospital stairs and down the hall on crutches. He stayed in the hospital overnight, and his postoperative care team planned to let him go home the next day. However, he was living in a third-floor walk-up apartment with 27 stairs. “I knew if I was released, I wasn’t going to be able to get up to my apartment.” So the team arranged for him to stay at the Orzac Center for Rehabilitation for a couple of nights.

Because Ty lives miles away from Long Island Jewish Valley Stream, he got outpatient physical therapy for several weeks at Phelps Hospital in Sleepy Hollow.

“Northwell and Operation Walk USA did everything they could to make me as comfortable as possible, and made the process of going through surgery and recovery seamless,” said Ty. He highly recommends the program to prospective knee replacement patients without insurance.

Ty has followed up with Dr. Scuderi several times since the surgery and is healing well. He can lift weights with his legs, and has gone on 6-mile hikes and rides his mountain bike, all without pain. “I responded really well to the procedure. I guess it's probably because I'm younger than most people who get knee replacements done, and I've been exercising my whole life. So, I bounced back quickly. It’s been an amazing experience that I'll never forget.”