On the move again

It’s a little hard to catch Paul Humphrey sitting still. Whether he’s at home in Kingston or spending a sunny day at his retirement getaway in Florida, he’s often up and out, working on projects and enjoying life. Humphrey is especially happy to be active because it wasn’t too long ago that his knee wouldn’t allow it. Robotic-assisted total knee replacement at Parkwest Medical Center got him moving again.

Something wasn’t right

After wielding a chainsaw in his yard one autumn day, Humphrey noticed his knee didn’t feel quite right. He had been cutting trees while standing on uneven ground on a bank near the lake.

“I guess I overdid what a 74-year-old person can do,” Humphrey says, “and my knee started giving me lots of pain.”

Humphrey scheduled an appointment with orthopedic surgeon Harold Cates, MD. But as time went by Humphrey was still troubled by his knee. “The pain never did go away, really,” he says.

He struggled when he walked, or any time he tried to be physically active. Things like yard work and golfing became painfully impossible.

Time to Take Action

Dr. Cates says there are more than 100 types of arthritis that may lead to knee replacement, and each has its own time frame of progression. Some may progress more rapidly, with the onset of pain being the first indicator that a knee replacement is needed.

The most classic type is osteoarthritis —also known as wear and tear — that develops over a long period of time.

“When a patient is experiencing pain, stiffness, swelling,” Dr. Cates says, “and most importantly, when the patient cannot enjoy everyday activities, it’s time to talk to an orthopedic surgeon.”

Humphrey was a candidate for a relatively new type of knee replacement surgery that uses robotic technology. It sounded futuristic, but Humphrey had no reservations about getting on board.

“I figured Dr. Cates knew what he was doing,” Humphrey says. “He seemed to think it was the way to go, and I’ve learned to listen to those in the profession.”

Robotic-Assisted Surgery

Dr. Cates explains that the robotic arm is a new tool for surgeons that helps balance the knee even as the surgery is being performed. This allows more precise cuts in the operating room. Dr. Cates had been using computer guidance for total knee replacements for the last six years. He feels that robotic-assisted total knee is the next big advancement in joint replacement.

“It represents technology’s ability to help surgeons enhance the position of the implant, leading to a better patient outcome and success,” Dr. Cates says.

Data from a CT scan is used to create a 3D image of the knee joint. This technology gives the surgeon the most accurate measurements for just the right fit.

The robot adds to the surgery, but the surgeon remains in control at all times. The surgeon can review the pre-operative plan and make real time inter-operative adjustments, and determine what the robotic arm is doing during the surgery.

Overall, the robotic system provides a less traumatic surgical experience for the patient, with less bleeding and less surgical trauma. With less surgical trauma the patient can recover more quickly.

Humphrey underwent a total knee replacement in February 2018. He says he felt good about the whole process from start to finish.

“I was really impressed with Dr. Cates and his nurse practitioner,” Humphrey says. “They just really have their act together.”

After talking to others who had undergone knee replacement surgery, Humphrey began to get the feeling that his experience had been easier than theirs.

“A lot of people I’ve talked to had a lot of pain and it seems like they had to walk on crutches longer than I did,” Humphrey says. “I think I threw the walking stick away after about three weeks.”

Humphrey says he couldn’t have asked for better treatment than he received at Parkwest Medical Center, and he’s very pleased with the outcome. If you ask him how he’s doing today, you’ll probably find out that Paul Humphrey is on the move again.

“Well, I’m doing just fine,” Humphrey says. “In fact, I’m going to play golf this afternoon!”

To learn more about robotic-assisted procedures at Parkwest Medical Center, visit treatedwell.com/robotics, or call 865-374-PARK.

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