The Time Is Now

UT Health Austin orthopedic surgeon empowers patient to reclaim their mobility

Reviewed by: Karl Koenig, MD, and Celie Tijerina
Written by: Ashley Lawrence

Orthopedic surgeon Karl Koenig, MD, gesturing towards x-ray images on a monitor.

On June 28, 2023, at the age of 69, Celie Tijerina underwent knee replacement surgery for her left knee. “I was nervous to begin this journey,” admits Celie. “Every time I went in for a physical, my primary care provider would stress the need for both knees to be replaced, which was daunting. Being the director of a preschool in Austin, undergoing surgery did not coincide with my professional obligations, so I told myself that I would address the issue after I retired. I continued to live in pain for years before taking that initial step and calling UT Health Austin.”

Celie was referred to Karl Koenig, MD, an orthopedic surgeon who serves as the Executive Director of UT Health Austin’s Musculoskeletal Institute, by a close family friend. “I didn’t know anything about Dr. Koenig, but from the first moment I called his office, he and his team were on top of things,” notes Celie. “The care team was exceptional, and I was surprised that everyone I encountered made me feel known and valued as if I was their only patient. They were all so cheerful, supportive, and kind, creating an amazing experience and comfortable environment.”

Learn more about Dr. Koenig’s commitment to connection.

<br>At UT Health Austin, we take a multidisciplinary approach to your care. This means you will benefit from the expertise of multiple specialists across a variety of disciplines caring for you in one place to avoid having to schedule multiple appointments with providers at locations all over the city. The Musculoskeletal Institute care team includes orthopedic surgeons, sports medicine physicians, physician assistants, physical therapists, physiatrists, chiropractors, nurse practitioners, dietitians, social workers, and more who work together to help you get back to the things in your life that matter most to you.

“When I met Dr. Koenig, the first thing I noticed was that he always has a big smile on his face,” shares Celie. “He is very enthusiastic, and the entire visit felt like chatting with a friend. He patiently answered all my questions and explained exactly how he could help. His confidence in me as a surgery candidate was something I didn’t believe in myself, but he helped me believe it about myself, which was really special.”

Dr. Koenig recommended prehabilitation, a form of physical therapy designed for patients before surgery to help build up their body’s strength to put them in a better position post-surgery, for Celie in the months leading up to her surgery. “My main concern was whether my body was going to be able to heal properly,” explains Celie. “I was relieved that Dr. Koenig offered this option, and I truly believe it contributed to the success of my surgery.”

Learn more about getting into pre-surgery shape.

<br>Nearly three months later, on November 15, 2023, Celie underwent knee replacement surgery for her right knee. “Starting physical therapy shortly after my surgery was crucial to my speedy recovery,” says Celie. “The entire process was very well-coordinated, and I now feel a strong connection to Dr. Koenig. He transformed my life both physically and mentally. His positivity restored my confidence in myself, and I couldn’t be happier.”

“My primary goal in all of this was to be able to walk up and down stairs normally, which is something I thought I would never do again,” concludes Celie. “Previously, I would avoid stairs at all costs, and I had anxiety about it for years. After surgery, that anxiety was suddenly gone. Now, my knees feel 20 years younger, and I can finally enjoy activities I once thought impossible, with the assurance of even greater possibilities ahead.”

For more information about the Musculoskeletal Institute or to request an appointment, call 1-833-UT-CARES (1-833-882-2737) or visit here.

About UT Health Austin

UT Health Austin is the clinical practice of the Dell Medical School at The University of Texas at Austin. We collaborate with our colleagues at the Dell Medical School and The University of Texas at Austin to utilize the latest research, diagnostic, and treatment techniques, allowing us to provide patients with an unparalleled quality of care. Our experienced healthcare professionals deliver personalized, whole-person care of uncompromising quality and treat each patient as an individual with unique circumstances, priorities, and beliefs. Working directly with you, your care team creates an individualized care plan to help you reach the goals that matter most to you — in the care room and beyond. For more information, call us at 1-833-UT-CARES or request an appointment here.