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Published on January 22, 2013

Dave Sinason – A New Era in Joint Replacement “No Machine, No Home Visits, No Crutches” 

Dave Sinason

Dave Sinason

Dave Sinason, 60, of DeKalb, an Accounting professor at Northern Illinois University, has a history of knee trouble. Dave’s knee replacement surgery in December was the most recent step on a long road of procedures and pain. But Dave’s experience this time around was quite an improvement compared to what he had known from years past.

In 1978, Dave tore the cartilage in his right knee, which back then meant a surgery to remove the damaged cartilage, which would eventually lead to additional problems. In 1991, Dave had an osteotomy, a procedure to straighten out his leg by breaking it and putting in a plate and screws to reconfigure it. In order to heal from the procedure, Dave had to endure weeks of a hip to ankle cast. The doctor called this a “twenty-year fix.”

By 2011, Dave was in need of a right knee replacement, but since a replacement could not be done on a knee with hardware in it, Dave prepared for the surgery an entire year ahead of time. In March 2011, he had an outpatient procedure to remove the hardware. A postop infection set him back about six months, so he had to wait until December 2012 to have the replacement done.

Finally on Dec. 18, 2012, he had the right knee replacement surgery. Dave had a great deal of experience with other surgeries, hospital stays, and therapies, so he thought he knew just what to expect in a knee replacement. In May 2005, Orthopedic Surgeon Steve Glasgow had performed Dave’s left knee replacement at the old hospital. Back in 2005, there was no group therapy, just a one on one session with a physical therapist. After the surgery in 2005, Dave was sent home with a leg machine to begin his on-going therapy. The machine moved his leg twenty-four hours a day for two weeks from a straight position to bending, over and over again. The physical therapist visited the house and adjusted the machine to increase the angle in order to regain flexibility.

Fast forward seven years—no machine, no home visits, no crutches! Instead, he used a walker that first day after surgery for stability, putting full weight on the replaced knee. He felt like he didn’t even need the walker. As a member of the group therapy class, with his wife Karen as his coach and nine other patients at Kish Hospital’s Center for Joint Care, the day following his surgery, he was already up and walking with limited assistance—something he had not done for weeks after previous surgeries. “The purpose of physical therapy back seven years was to get you home, not really your first step to total recovery as it is now,” Dave said. “I was used to learning how to use the crutches and managing the stairs, but not starting rehabilitation in the hospital.”

The following week, nine days post-op, Dave returned to Dr. Glasgow to have the staples removed, he traded in his walker and received a cane. A couple of weeks later he was using the cane, mostly outside. This was Dave’s sixth surgery, the fourth one on his right knee. He now goes to outpatient physical therapy three times a week to strengthen he muscles and work on flexibility. After six weeks of therapy, his progress will be assessed to determine if he needs to continue a few more weeks.

Soon after beginning outpatient physical therapy, Dave set goals for himself: to drive the car and start the semester on time—less than a month after his surgery. Dave knows what it’s like to teach on crutches, this time around though, he’s looking forward to just having the cane. He knows he’ll have to sit more than usual, but he has no doubt that he’ll be able to return to his regular schedule teaching three classes. And he jokes that having the cane will keep his Accounting students “in line.”

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