Miniature golf and visiting the zoo. Two activities any grandparent would be excited to do with their grandchildren. When Paul Renick goes this summer with his four grandchildren, it will be especially enjoyable without pain and discomfort.
“I started having problems with my right knee a few years ago,” said Paul. “My left knee took on more stress as a result. After watching this for a while, my primary physician, Dr. [Eric] Bakke, suggested I visit Dr. [Jeremy] Gardner in orthopedics. I trusted Dr. Bakke’s word, so that’s what I did.”
Paul decided a total knee replacement was his best long-term solution. Prior to surgery with Dr. Gardner, he enrolled in Altru’s Joint Replacement Center (JRC), a comprehensive education and exercise program, beginning prior to surgery and continuing with group physical and occupational therapy after surgery.
“I met Mark [Erickson], the JRC coordinator, at the first class,” said Paul. “He went through everything to expect before, during and after surgery. We received manuals that describe all the steps and what we need to do as patients to make the replacement successful. The educational components are a huge part of this. As a retired teacher, that meant a lot to me.”
In addition to the classes before surgery, Paul needed to select a care coach. He looked no further than their daughter, Kari.
“I knew she would keep me on track,” said Paul. “Kari was the coach, and my wife, Cathy, was the supervisor. I didn’t stand a chance.”
The afternoon following surgery, Paul walked from his bed to the door and back.
“Mark said it would happen, but I didn’t believe him until I did it,” said Paul.
For the next two days, Paul attended twice-daily group therapy sessions.
“It was really a motivator,” he said. “We cheered each other on and built each other up. It really makes a mental difference in the beginning, having others in the same boat.”
After discharge, Paul worked with physical therapist Katie Ferguson at Altru Rehabilitation Center to regain full mobility.
“She did a magnificent job and is largely responsible for me being as far along as I am today,” said Paul. “She was tough, but kind.”
“Paul was what I wish for in every patient,” said Katie. “He would give me a hard time, laugh with me and work hard at physical therapy and at home. Because of all this, he achieved excellent results.”
Katie worked with Paul and Kari on what exercises needed to be done at home. She even taped the exercises for Kari to view when she couldn’t attend Paul’s appointments.
“I’ve done the tapings for many patients,” said Katie. “If I know a person learns better visually, or if family isn’t able to be there physically, video is a great option.”
“It was super how she accommodated us,” said Cathy. “Katie adjusted her schedule to help with our family’s needs. We have such confidence in the program and in Altru. It’s top-notch.”
“I had a lot of important people taking care of me,” said Paul. “I felt everything was handled very competently and professionally. The education and coaching aspects were just as important as the surgery and the doctors. It makes a world of difference going in when you know where you’re headed and what you’re facing.”
As for miniature golf and the zoo? Paul can’t wait.
Has education ever played a part in your recovery? Let us know.