Skiing Is Believing

Tendon-sparing hip replacement quickly gets 80-year-old back on the slopes

Of all the people who rang in the new year by strapping on a pair of skis and hitting the slopes, Frederick Wade stood out for two exceptional reasons.

First of all, Frederick is 80 years old. Secondly, when he took to the slopes this January, he was just a few weeks removed from right hip replacement surgery.

“He wanted to give his new hip a good test,” Frederick’s wife, Susan, says of the skiing excursion.

“And the hip passed with flying colors,” Frederick expounds. “The snow wasn’t that good; it was a little mushy. But my hip felt great. No pain or discomfort at all.”

No surprise there. After all, Frederick received his new hip from the Outpatient Joint Replacement Center of America in Tampa. 

Co-founded by Philip E. Clifford, MD, AAHKS, AAOS, and Paulina J. Collier, MPAS, PA-C, the Outpatient Joint Replacement Center of America specializes in an outpatient protocol for the surgical replacement of hip and knee joints.

The protocol allows for speedier recoveries that permit patients to walk away from their surgery within a few hours, eliminating long postoperative hospital stays. Patients can resume their favorite activities shortly thereafter.

Dr. Clifford’s patients include a cycling enthusiast who was back riding 15 miles a day within a month of receiving a new knee, an athletic trainer who was mowing his lawn five days after getting a new hip, and a yoga instructor doing poses and stretches while still in the recovery room after her hip replacement.

“Tingling in My Toes”

And now there’s Frederick, a London native who has resided the better part of his life on the beaches of Saint-Tropez, France, and Siesta Key, where he spent the past 30 years renting cabanas to tourists.

“I like living near the water because I love to water-ski,” Frederick insists. “I’ve also done a bit of wakesurfing and quite a lot of kiteboarding, too. As for snow, I love to slalom; I actually taught that for
a while.”

Frederick’s love for water- and snow-skiing is so great that a year ago, even as the pain in his right hip was intensifying, he refused to abandon the activities. To compensate for his pain, he simply altered his approach.

“As far as water-skiing goes, I just skied on one leg — my left leg,” he says. “It was very painful, though. It hurt to walk, too.
At one point, while visiting family in Italy last winter, I had to be wheeled around in a wheelchair.

“Then, in June of last year, I started feeling tingling in my toes. A week or two later, I went to my doctor, who ordered x-rays and an MRI. When they came back, he said, Fred, this looks pretty bad. There’s something wrong with your hip.”

Fred soon visited a hip specialist who suggested that rest would take care of the problem. After three months of rest failed to alleviate his pain, Frederick began looking for help elsewhere. His search led him to Dr. Clifford.

During Frederick’s initial appointment, Dr. Clifford reviewed the x-rays and MRI and determined replacement surgery was necessary. That surgery was performed a week later using techniques and medications that are at the core of the procedure’s success.

Less Muscle Assault 

“One of those medicines is called Exparel®. It’s a long-lasting, nonopioid, local anesthetic that can last for two to three days,” Dr. Clifford explains. “Whether we’re replacing a knee or a hip, we always use a technique that requires less assault on the muscle.

“Our hip procedure, for example, is performed through an incision that is only three to four inches long. That small incision is what allows for the preservation of muscle attachments.

“It’s also important to note that during our procedure, we detach only one tendon from the hip, which is then repaired anatomically. This technique results in less trauma to the hip, less blood loss and a smaller chance the length of the leg will be changed.”

“But the best thing about our protocol is that there are no limitations after surgery. Whether it’s a knee or hip being replaced, patients can always return to activities almost immediately. In fact, we encouraged them to do just that.”

Education and communication are two other important factors in the protocol. Dr. Clifford says he spends more than an hour preparing patients and educating them on the postoperative regimen required to ensure a successful outcome.

“Not only that, but when our patients go home after surgery, they know that between 4 and 7 o’clock that night, we call to check on them,” the doctor adds. “It’s not them calling us; it’s us calling them. That level of patient care does not exist in many places
these days.”

“A Perfect Job”

Frederick can attest to that. He says he received several calls from
Dr. Clifford in the days following his surgery. For that and other reasons, Frederick considers himself fortunate to be among
Dr. Clifford’s patients.

“First of all, once Dr. Clifford saw what he was dealing with, he squeezed me into his schedule and got me in for surgery in just a week,” Frederick raves. “That’s incredible.

“And he did a perfect job, just perfect. He didn’t even leave a scar on my leg. All I’ve got there is a little red mark because he sewed the stitches from the inside. I’m telling you, the man is an incredible surgeon, and he is an absolute gentleman. 

“I would highly recommend him because I have friends who went to other doctors for their hip replacements long before I did, and they’re still struggling months later. Some even have other problems that started because of their new hips.

“But here I am, out doing everything I want to do and enjoying life. I was literally out on the slopes skiing for two hours the other day, and the only thing I could complain about was the snow conditions because my hip felt great. Like I said. Dr. Clifford did a perfect job.”

© FHCN article by Roy Cummings. 

Photo by Jordan Pysz.

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