Match Point

Joint replacement patient quickly returns to racquetball court.

Alan Canonico has a great passion for racquetball. He generally plays three or four days a week when he’s home in Sarasota, and he often travels across the country to participate in tournaments. When he couldn’t play due to discomfort in his joints, it was a pain unto itself for him.

Alan Canonico has a total hip replacement and spends time in The Orthopaedic Spine and Joint Center at Lakewood Ranch Medical Center in Bradenton.

Hip replacement surgery got Alan back on the court quickly

“I really enjoy the game and play at a high level,” he shares. “Years ago, however, I tore the meniscus in my left knee and had arthroscopic surgery. Three years later, I tore the same knee again, then I did it a third time.

“By then, the pain in my knee was excruciating every time I moved or turned quickly. I was taking prescription ibuprofen one after the other just to stay on the racquetball court. I eventually had to have knee replacement surgery because arthritis developed, and the pain in my knee was too intense to continue playing.”

Alan had the procedure performed at Lakewood Ranch Medical Center in Bradenton, and he was extremely pleased with his experience at the hospital. Six months after surgery, he was back to playing racquetball at his previous high level.

“Then one day, I thought I pulled a groin muscle,” Alan relates. “I decided to let it rest, so for four weeks, I stayed home and stretched. The pain got worse, however, and became so bad, I couldn’t get into and out of my car. Just lifting my leg was extremely painful, so I went back to the orthopaedic surgeon.

“He told me trouble getting in and out of a car is an indication of a bad hip. He took x-rays and said, It’s not a groin muscle. You need a new left hip. He showed me all the arthritis in my hip, then told me I had a decision to make about having hip replacement surgery. I decided to get it over with so I could get back to playing racquetball.”

As soon as Alan decided to move forward with surgery, his name was placed on the surgical schedule at Lakewood Ranch Medical Center, where there is an entire floor dedicated to the care of people having spine and joint surgery.

The 21-bed unit is The Orthopaedic Spine and Joint Center, where coordinator Caroline McGrath, ARNP, began Alan’s program of care by providing him with a guidebook that explains the surgery and its recovery process.

“The guidebook is a very comprehensive manual that directs patients through their care before, during and after surgery,” describes Caroline. “It almost becomes their second Bible that they can refer to on an ongoing basis for information and answers to their questions.

“Patients then come to a preoperative education class, which is vital because it prepares them prior to surgery and alleviates many of their apprehensions. Patients and their family members can also ask any other questions they might have.”

“Caroline ran a class that was unbelievable,” offers Alan. “She was terrific and discussed everything I was going to experience. She showed me the different options and then introduced the staff on the orthopaedic unit.

“Lakewood Ranch has a floor that’s devoted just to orthopaedic patients, which I think is wonderful. If people have a hip or knee done, they’re right there with experienced doctors and nurses. They also have special rooms where patients do their rehabilitation.”

Initial Rehabilitation

Following joint replacement surgery, patients stay in The Orthopaedic Spine and Joint Center, where they’re carefully managed through their initial rehabilitation by qualified and committed staff. All patients are evaluated by a physical therapist at the bedside on the day of surgery.

“Some total hip patients have an assisted walk in the hallway, and others do some bedside activities and exercises and then get up and sit in the recliner to eat dinner,” states Caroline. “This improves circulation and helps them expand their lungs fully, cough and deep-breathe, which is very important to their recovery.”

“As soon as I was done with surgery, they put me in my room in the orthopaedic unit and woke me up,” recounts Alan. “They got me standing up and moving around quickly. They had walkers and other items I could use for support, but they got me walking right away.”

Much of the postoperative management of the total hip procedure centers on getting the patients moving, getting their range of motion going and getting them into physical therapy. The patients’ physicians and the nurses in The Orthopaedic Spine and Joint Center get them into therapy twice a day, both individually and in a group setting.

“Group physical therapy is beneficial for patients because they interact,” notes Caroline. “They push each other to do the exercises; sometimes, they even get a little competitive. Still, everyone improves at his or her own pace. What’s most important is the patients ultimately reach their goals of getting good function out of their replacement joints.”

All of the nurses in The Orthopaedic Spine and Joint Center are orthopaedically trained, and everyone on the therapy team is committed to the Marshall-Steele philosophy adopted by the center. Under Marshall-Steele, the staff follows a stringent set of guidelines that aim to quickly initiate rehabilitation and enhance recovery. The goal is the best outcome for each patient.

“Four weeks – not four months – after having the hip replacement surgery, I was back to hitting the racquetball. At six weeks, I was back to playing at a skilled level.” – Alan

“In addition, I’m there on a daily basis during their stay to ensure that all of their medical needs are being met and to coordinate their discharge,” stresses Caroline. “I’m there for them right through to the reunion luncheon twelve weeks afterward, when we let go of their hands and they’re ready to be fully independent again.”

Words of Advice

After Alan was discharged from The Orthopaedic Spine and Joint Center, he continued doing the exercises he learned there. He kept in contact with Caroline and went to his doctor’s office regularly for follow-ups on his rehabilitation, which he took very seriously. As a result of his dedication, he was able to return to his passion very quickly.

“Four weeks – not four months – after having the hip replacement surgery, I was back to hitting the racquetball,” Alan marvels. “At six weeks, I was back to playing at a skilled level. Now, I’m running all over, and I have no pain at all. I feel like I never had a hip replacement joint put in.”

Alan Canonico

Alan says he is amazed that he no longer feels any pain in his hip, including when he gets in and out of his car. He’s also pleased with his experience at Lakewood Ranch Medical Center, which he describes as “fantastic.” He has kudos for the staff in The Orthopaedic Spine and Joint Center.

“I can’t say enough about the Lakewood Ranch staff,” he enthuses. “They’re wonderful people. They were great from the time I checked in until the time I left. They took really good care of me.”

Because Alan has had successful total knee and total hip replacement surgeries at Lakewood Ranch Medical Center, he is quick to recommend the hospital to others. He offers some additional counsel for those facing total joint replacement surgery.

“My advice for good results is to do three things,” he observes. “First, it’s very important that you get a surgeon you can trust and who will discuss all the options with you. Then, find a good place to have the surgery, a place like Lakewood Ranch Medical Center. Finally, be dedicated to your rehabilitation. Do that, and you’ll be back to your activities in no time.”

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