Joint effort: Doctors use team approach to help patients recover mobility

Tuesday, March 17, 2009
ELIZABETH DODD ~ edodd@semissourian.com
Geneva Robinson, 73, of Cape Girardeau, performs exercises with her knee during rehab with physical therapist Carrie Johnson at Fitness Plus. Robinson goes to water rehab two times a week and does therapy at home as part of her post-surgical rehab for a knee replacment.

Geneva Robinson has always feared the water, but she's learned to get past it. Robinson, 73, visits a pool twice a week, wearing her new green bathing suit, as part of a therapy routine for her knee replacement.

At home, with help from daughter Vera Sterling, she repeats some of the same exercises, which will help make the muscles around her knee flexible. Exercise is helping her regain mobility and help manage her diabetes, she said.

"I went through some pain and stiffness at first, but I'm coming along," said Robinson, of Cape Girardeau.

Nationally, the number of people opting for hip, knee or ankle replacement surgery is rising, according to the American College of Rheumatology, and will continue to grow as the baby boom generation ages. New technology can help people regain an active lifestyle, but only if they are willing to do the work required during recovery, said Dr. Brian C. Schafer, of Orthopaedic Associates of Southeast Missouri.

He and Amy Brentlinger, a registered nurse and care coordinator for Saint Francis Medical Center's Center for Joint Replacement, met with more than 100 patients and their coaches March 9 as part of a new follow-up process. The patients were able to critique the program and exchange tips.

ELIZABETH DODD ~ edodd@semissourian.com
Geneva Robinson, 73, of Cape Girardeau, performs exercises with her knee during rehab with Physical Therapist Carrie Johnson at Fitness Plus. Robinson goes to water rehab two times a week and does therapy at home as part of her post-surgical rehab for a knee replacment.

After one man said the knee exercise requiring him to slide his foot forward while seated was harder at home without the hospital's physical therapy equipment, Brentlinger said a cookie sheet would work. Robinson said she used the lid from a plastic storage box, and Elmer Mansfield, who has had both his knee joints replaced, said he'd used a scrap of paneling.

The biggest obstacle for people who need joint replacements is getting them to admit they need it, said Dorothy Selden, whose husband put off having knee surgery "for as long as possible."

The second biggest obstacle is doing the therapy afterward.

Glenda Parsons-Hayden, 75, of Cape Girardeau said she delayed knee surgery for two years.

"I'm an active person. I have 12 grandchildren and five sons. I want to be able to enjoy them," she said. Her knee pain held up activities with family and friends. She scheduled the operation after canceling a trip to China because she was in "too much pain."

FRED LYNCH ~ flynch@semissourian.com
Dr. Brian C. Schafer asks patients and their coaches to critique their surgery and rehab experience during a luncheon March 9 at Saint Francis Medical Center.

"I guess I would say I was scared," she said.

Some of the physical therapy exercises look simple but feel brutal, Hayden said. She stuck to them, though, determined to be able to walk without limping. She said her friend, Barbara Rose-Rust, coached her through the exercises. Both women are 75 and have been friends since college.

"She knew I would make her do it," Rust said. "But she made up her mind she was going to walk without a limp."

Brentlinger said coaches play a vital role in getting patients to exercise before and after surgery, which speeds recovery.

Joint replacement patients at Southeast Missouri Hospital receive one-on-one education and counseling before surgery, according to Brenda Parkhurst, orthopedics nurse manager.

FRED LYNCH ~ flynch@semissourian.com
The joint replacement patients are part of a group of "trailblazers."

Beginning later this year, Southeast patients will receive customized binders with details on the upcoming procedure, education and rehab tips. It will keep information in one place, so the patient, family members and caregivers can get consistent information from presurgery through the recovery.

pmcnichol@semissourian.com

388-3646

Pertinent addresses:

100 Main Street, Silva, MO

401 Independence St., Cape Girardeau, MO

211 Saint Francis Drive, Cape Girardeau, MO

1701 Lacey St. Cape Girardeau, MO

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: