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Total Knee Replacement Gets Patient Back in Motion

April 26, 2018
When Kathleen Speca, in her fifties, was diagnosed with early osteoarthritis in her late twenties, she recognized that her knee pain would increase over the years. However, after being diagnosed and treated successfully for breast cancer through radiation treatments and long-term medication, her discomfort worsened more quickly than expected.

In the hopes of alleviating her pain, Mrs. Speca turned to Lee M. Schmidt, MD, Director of GBMC’s Joint Center. “We first tried a conservative approach of cortisone shots and physical therapy to strengthen the muscles surrounding my knee,” Mrs. Speca explains. When the pain persisted despite the treatment, she and Dr. Schmidt discussed and agreed upon the surgical option of a total knee replacement.

Whether dancing, cooking or just relaxing at home, Mrs. Speca is thankful to be pain-free. After two total knee replacements, patient Kathleen Speca is on her feet again.
“I had the first total knee replacement surgery on my right knee on March 6, 2012, and then on my left knee on October 23, 2012. Although I was prepared for a tough recovery, I bounced back like a teenager!” she says. “There was certainly pain and discomfort, but nothing I couldn’t handle. Plus, with Dr. Schmidt’s excellent surgical technique and by strictly following my physical therapy guidelines, I was off to a speedy recovery.”

According to Dr. Schmidt, “Every component of the joint replacement process is done at the Joint Center. Patients are evaluated by a surgeon and are given a guidebook that explains what happens each day in the hospital, how to prepare for surgery and plan for their recovery.” He adds that patients are invited to attend a class to meet the Joint Care Coordinator and become better educated about the process.

Post-operative care is provided on Unit 58, which is tailored specifically for joint replacement patients. The team includes orthopedic nurses, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, physical and occupational therapists and discharge planning specialists, all supervised by the Joint Care Coordinator. Each patient also has a designated coach to help them prepare for surgery and assist in recovery. In addition to total joint replacement, the Center offers a full array of surgical services, including minimally invasive options and partial joint replacement surgery, in which only the arthritic portions of the joints are replaced, resulting in faster recovery.

“The nurses and techs on the unit were all fabulous. The care I received from the beginning to my discharge was superb. Dr. Schmidt and the entire staff treated me like family every step of the way.”
Mrs. Speca enjoys dancing and cooking, which had always played havoc on her knees. Even going up and down steps was extremely painful. “Now, I am better able to be on my feet for hours preparing meals for guests, and no matter what, I’ll never stop dancing,” she says. “It’s so nice not to have your knees hurt as you climb the stairs. I can keep enjoying my life as a productive person in society, continuing my career in the non-profit sector, volunteering and helping others.”

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