Mike’s Story: Back Up the Ladder, Thanks To Healthy Heroes

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Mike Muhl has spent his career rushing to emergencies. As battalion chief for Huber Heights Division of Fire, he’s experienced physical wear and tear from his job.

“I had been dealing with a very bad knee that needs replaced for years, and it was getting to the point where I had to either do something to improve my quality of life or have the surgery, which I didn't want to do just yet.”

Mike says simple tasks were difficult to complete. “With reduced mobility in your knee, it affected everything about my job. I had a hard time climbing ladders and having the flexibility in the knee to climb a ladder. It was difficult to get into some of the vehicles. I had problems kneeling down on the ground, which is a large portion of everything we do in the fire service — staying low and being able to crawl and maneuver.”

Mike came to Premier Health to improve his quality of life by working one-on-one with a certified athletic trainer as part of the Healthy Heroes program. Healthy Heroes, which is supported by the Premier Health Foundations, is a free, comprehensive wellness and fitness program that supports the effectiveness, efficiency, and durability of first responders, preparing them for the physical demands of the job.

“Being able to get into a program that concentrated on mobility and flexibility and taught me how to deal with that and gave me other options improved the general quality of life, so I can spend that time with my family,” says Mike. “I can do the activities that I like to do, as well as perform better at my job.”

As part of the Healthy Heroes program, Mike worked with a Premier Health athletic trainer on a plan to improve the pain in his knees. For the advanced arthritis in his knees, the trainer put together corrective exercise strategies to try to take pressure off Mike’s knees. Exercises can strengthen certain components, such as the glutes.

After making progress on Mike’s knee pain, an accident during a training exercise changed everything.

“During that training, a piece of concrete became dislodged and crushed my leg and trapped me underneath it for several minutes,” Mike says.

The next day, Mike informed his trainer that a 2,000-pound block of concrete had fallen onto his leg. His trainer was able to get in touch with an orthopedic surgeon the next morning to get Mike in for a follow-up visit.

Jennifer Jerele, MD, an orthopedic surgeon with Premier Orthopedics at Miami Valley Hospital, says swelling was the biggest limiting factor in Mike’s recovery. “The entire portion of his lower leg had a large abrasion or a scrape on it with some drainage from that, just from the amount of swelling that he had,” says Dr. Jerele.

She explains that physical therapy and training from Healthy Heroes was a big part of Mike’s recovery. “We're really fortunate here at Premier that we have a program called Healthy Heroes that gears toward our firefighter staff. We know how important they are to our community, and [the Healthy Heroes program] just gets them back on their feet, helps them maintain healthy lifestyles, and just is a great resource for our firefighter community.”

Mike says working with Premier Health’s Healthy Heroes team has benefitted his health and well-being. “My trainer and I have developed a very good relationship on a personal level. He's very, very well-educated in many facets of overall generalized health. We enjoy talking sports. We enjoy talking about all of the fun things that go on in life, but when we get down to my personal level of health, he has just a wealth of knowledge that I can tap into about nutrition and exercise.”

For his part, the biggest goal for Mike’s trainer is to help Mike go through his life with as little pain as possible, and to function as efficiently as possible, for a healthy, happy life. With known damage to Mike’s knees, surgery is likely in the future. Together, they’re trying to put that off until it’s absolutely necessary.

Mike says the benefits from Healthy Heroes not only helps him on the job, but gives him more freedom to enjoy the time he has with his loved ones.

“My personal benefits from participating in the Healthy Heroes program have been the generally improved quality of life. When we are off and away from our job, there are things that I wouldn't be able to do with my family. It's just a testimony that that recovery process was really well-thought-out and well-executed.”

Contact Us

For more information on the Healthy Heroes program, please call (937) 499-9805(937) 499-9805.