A Joint Effort
Date: April 1, 2011
Orthopedic program helps patients get back to the lives they love
Towson resident Michael Skinner, 41 years old, and 62-year-old Carolyn Huber from Southern Maryland, have just a few things in common. Both have active lifestyles and want to keep up with the young children in their lives, and both had total joint replacements in the Joint Effort program at Johns Hopkins Bayview.
Life in motion
Skinner, a former college athlete who enjoys playing sports and hiking with his three young sons, started feeling sharp pain in his groin and soreness in his leg a few years ago. He also recognized that he had a limited range of motion in his hip—so reduced that he could not tie his shoes.
He sought treatment from Simon Mears, M.D., Ph.D., chair of orthopedic surgery, but wasn’t sure he was prepared for the answer—a hip replacement. “At first, I was shocked because of how young I was. I couldn’t believe I needed a hip replacement,” says Skinner. “I was not willing to embrace surgery right away—both out of fear and disbelief that at this age, I needed this procedure.” But, two years later, when the pain was just too much, Skinner made the choice to have surgery.
Because of Skinner’s young age and active lifestyle, Dr. Mears suggested the Rapid Recovery program. “Michael was young, active and wanted to get home quickly—a perfect candidate,” says Dr. Mears.
For hip replacement patients, the program helps to expedite recovery with preparation for surgery, physical therapy, and anesthesia and pain management. Skinner met with physical therapist Fin Mears, PT, a few times before surgery to begin his home conditioning program, and learn about what to expect before and after surgery. And when Skinner arrived in his room after surgery, Fin was one of the first people to visit. Skinner was up and moving that very same day with ease, having been prepared for the exercises to come.
“Dr. Mears had the information and objectivity to help me make the right decision, and knowing that Fin was my recovery partner made it so much easier,” says Skinner. “It makes me wonder why I let myself suffer for so long. With the help of the physical therapy team at Johns Hopkins Bayview, I made leaps and bounds of progress every day, and now I’m ready for the warm weather and spending a lot of time outside with my family.”
Carolyn Huber, though she never has met Michael Skinner, agrees with his optimistic outlook. Huber, who had a double knee replacement, was amazed and delighted with her outcome. “At first, I had no idea what to expect, but orthopedic surgeon Dr. Michael Trice and his staff helped me understand the process and prepared me for everything before and after surgery,” she says.
Huber started feeling the pain about one year ago, and because she couldn’t continue the activities she loved—walking and biking—she also began to gain weight. Knowing Huber also had end-stage
arthritis in her knees, Dr. Trice offered her the solution she needed—a double knee replacement. “Patients like Carolyn, who are in their 50s and 60s, and have failed with other noninvasive methods, such as injections, are ideal for a knee replacement, and in her case, two replacements,” Dr. Trice says.
Because of the risks associated with operating on both knees at the same time, Dr. Trice recommended to Huber that the more damaged knee be replaced first. In July, Huber’s right knee was replaced, and six months later, Dr. Trice completed the double replacement with her left knee. Says Dr. Trice, “We can operate anytime between three weeks to four months after the first knee has been replaced. It’s up to the patient and their comfort level.”
“Every day, my knees get stronger,” says Huber. “All I wanted to be able to do was enjoy the simple things in life without pain—gardening, playing with my three grandchildren and staying active. And now, thanks to Dr. Trice and his wonderful staff, I can.”