Back to Life After Knee Replacement

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12Staff Report

As we age, our knees can weaken or become inflexible due to osteoarthritis. Creaky, painful knees can be everything from a nuisance to completely disabling. When other options such as medication, therapy, and injections fail to reduce a patient’s pain, a total knee replacement may be an option.

When teaching at Milford Christian School, Hazel Riley’s knees made her days difficult. She dreaded climbing a set of steep stairs at the school, and she began teaching from her desk instead of standing before her class. “Although the kids adapted, I didn’t feel good about it,” she said. Riley realized her pain was keeping her from the things she loved most.

In June 2011, Riley visited Orthopaedic Surgeon Stephen Manifold, MD of First State Orthopaedics. Dr. Manifold is fellowship trained in knee and shoulder reconstruction and serves as the Medical Director of Bayhealth’s Division of Orthopaedics. She told him about the stairs at the school and said she wanted to walk them, unaided, by the first day of school. Her visit gave Riley hope; Dr. Manifold explained she was a candidate for total knee replacement surgery.

Before surgery, Riley participated in the Total Joint Class at Bayhealth Milford Memorial. “I had the opportunity to ask a lot of questions,” she said. “It took a lot of the fear away.” Weekly, seasoned nurses teach the Total Joint Class for patients who will soon undergo orthopaedic surgery. Bayhealth physical therapists and case management staff also make presentations. In the class, Riley learned how to prepare for her surgery, inpatient stay, return to home, and therapy.

The day of the surgery, Riley felt nervous but was prepared. A nurse from Bayhealth Milford Memorial had called her a few days ahead to review the pre-op instructions and answer Riley’s remaining questions. She had very few. After surgery, Dr. Manifold admitted Riley as an inpatient at Bayhealth Milford Memorial.

“I love the people there,” she said. “I’ve stayed at other hospitals before, and I prefer Milford. The nurses are great.” The therapists provided physical therapy services on the unit. Riley had clear milestones to meet before she could be discharged. “I had to walk the whole hallway and I had to be able to go up and down two steps,” she said. Just three days later, she was able to go home.

Riley’s discharge came with instructions to begin in-home therapy. For two weeks, Bayhealth physical therapists came to her home, getting her moving. “After that, I went to the Bayhealth Outpatient Center at Milford three days per week for continued therapy,” said Riley. In six weeks, Riley went from a walker to a cane, then to walking on her own. “I made good progress,” said Riley. “I was very determined.” Throughout her experience, Riley said that Dr. Manifold and the staff at Bayhealth Milford Memorial worked well as a team to make her surgical experience go smoothly. “They always kept me informed,” she said.

On the first day of school, Riley hiked those stairs without assistance. She has since retired from teaching, but enjoys her flexibility and freedom from pain. “Now I can keep up with my grandchildren,” she said. “I’ve never been able to do that.”

Now retired, Riley has become an advocate for knee replacement surgery at Bayhealth. “I wish I had done this sooner. I encourage other people that have issues with their knees to look at total joint replacement,” she said. Riley said there’s a good chance she’ll need to have her other knee replaced, but this time, she won’t wait until it stops her from doing what she loves.