Joint Replacement Returns Avid Skier To The Slopes

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Joint Replacement
Jeff Davis

Sliding 100 yards down Mammoth Mountain, 63-year-old, Jeff Davis knew his knee would never be the same. Jeff underwent a major knee injury and had been suffering from osteoarthritis for more than a year.

An avid skier and bicyclist, Jeff was determined to remain active. He continued to ski using a solid knee brace prescribed to him, but his movement was limited. As time went on, he still maintained the ability to ride his bike, but skiing was almost impossible.

With two prior knee surgeries and traumatic damage to his knee, Jeff knew he needed a long-term fix. That’s when he was referred to the Joint Replacement Center (JRC) at Long Beach Memorial.

“My wife was at Long Beach Memorial having heart surgery, and one of her nurses kept talking about how great her recent knee replacement went,” says Jeff.

The nurses’ surgeon turned out to be Douglas Garland, M.D., orthopedic surgeon, medical director, MemorialCare Joint Replacement Center, Long Beach Memorial. Jeff met with Dr. Garland and began planning a total knee arthroplasty – surgery that would replace his damaged knee with an artificial implant. For people under the age of 65 who elect to have surgery, the standard implant is made up of a combination of materials that include trabecular metal, polyethylene, cobalt chrome and ceramic.

On July 18, 2011, Jeff checked into the hospital to have his knee replaced. “I was scared out of my mind, absolutely terrified,” says Jeff. “I was afraid of not being able to use my knee and how long it would take me to recover. I figured I would have months of recovery time.”

After surgery he participated in group therapy at Long Beach Memorial. Joint replacement patients go to group therapy twice a day, for every day they’re in the hospital. Family members play the important role of rehab “coach.” Because of their involvement in the recovery process, they’re encouraged to participate in group therapy so they can learn the exercises and help the patient at home.

While at the hospital, Jeff also participated in individual therapy sessions that helped him adjust to using his new joint while doing common activities such as climbing stairs, using a chair and “car transfers.” The JRC has the front end of a car in the hospital that allows patients to practice getting in and out safely.

Jeff was initially told his recovery would last four days. “I checked in on Monday and I was going to be released on Thursday. By Tuesday I was walking.  At first I took a couple of steps, and the very next day I was climbing stairs.”

Jeff was discharged from Long Beach Memorial a day early, on Wednesday. “I got up and walked out. There was no assistance needed.”

Once at home, Jeff did physical therapy one day a week for about two months.

“The whole key for knee surgery is not to have leg swelling, and that’s very difficult to do,” says Dr. Garland. “It’s a double edge sword, doing enough therapy to recover but not doing too much that the patient gets leg swelling. If they get that concept, they really don’t need that much therapy. Jeff was a perfect example of that. I never saw him again. It’s all about confidence if you think you can do something most likely you can, and he was very confident and self-assured.”

Within two to three days after being home, Jeff was driving his six speed. He also began riding his bicycle 15 - 20 miles at a time within two weeks. But the biggest surprise for Jeff was being able to ski again.

“I waited for winter to come. That year I skied so well I bought a new pair of skis, I was that confident in my abilities.”

This past season, Jeff skied 32 days – the most he has ever skied in one season.