New Technology for Bilateral Knee Surgery and Recovery
– written by Jack McDonnell, video edited by Rob Gilbert
Knowing when to commit to total knee replacement surgery is easy. Your body will tell you when you have had enough sleepless nights, severe discomfort sitting, walking, standing and general leg soreness that interferes with your way of life. Whether you are young or old, an athlete or a couch potato, knee breakdowns can destroy the quality of your life. I knew it was time. My path relied heavily on new technology for bilateral knee surgery and recovery:
MAKOplasty Robotic Assisted Surgery
Bemer Physical Vascular Therapy
The X10 Knee Recovery System™
Weighing All The Options
The first course of action is to explore all other possible treatments before electing Total Knee Replacement (TKA) surgery. To accomplish this you should discuss your particular situation with an orthopedic surgeon that you have 100 % confidence in. All good surgeons view TKA as the last resort. Once you have a surgeon you are comfortable with, you are on your way. The real challenge is now ahead. Most people worry about what type of surgery, what about scaring, partial or full, how long will I be laid up, what hospital, what time of year I should have surgery. These are all great questions, but there are many other important details that make your TKA a positive and successful experience.
A Great Orthopedic Surgeon
I have been fortunate to have been the patient of a wonderful orthopedic surgeon in Buffalo, New York. Over the past fifteen plus years. He has exhausted ever possible remedy to allow me to live an active and fulfilling lifestyle. However, there came a time when I knew we had exhausted every possible solution.
During the 15+ years of treatments, surgeries and therapy we learned of many alternative treatments. What I learned most, was to take the time and do your research. Have an open mind and never be afraid to make suggestions. I learned a long time ago, the only dumb question is the one that isn’t asked. If you don’t ask, you will never know. I knew I wanted to explore all of the new technology for bilateral knee surgery and recovery before I went ahead with any more procedures.
I have had more than my share of surgical procedures, well over 15, so I have an idea of what it means to be prepared for the surgery and be prepared for the post-surgery experience. Every step of the way is extremely important and each step should be treated as being equally important. From the first visit to your general practitioner to your final release from therapy, every step should be carefully researched and planned. This is a building process, one block on top of another, any weak link will adversely affect the final product – a successful return to the life you once had.
My History of Stiff Joints
I have a documented history of stiff joints and below average flexibility. This was even more evident during the recovery period from shoulder and knee surgeries. Although the operations were considered a success, returning to my normal life style was always a major struggle. Rehabilitation was always long and painful. I am also the person that has cold hands and feet, thus questioning my level of circulation.
My ability to exercise and maintain my active lifestyle has been diminishing over the past several years. Shoulders, hips and knees were slowing me down and preventing me enjoying all activities.
BEMER Technology to Enhance Blood Flow
In the spring of 2017 I was introduced to a product known as a “BEMER” by Doctor Robert Brookman. BEMER is a FDA approved medical device. Simply put, it increases the blood flow in the microcirculatory system. What does that mean? It means that through regular daily use of the BEMER you can increase the oxygen and nutrients delivery by as much as 30%, or more, while removing a similar amount of waste products and carbon dioxide. If someone told you that you could increase the amount of oxygen and nutrients suppled to your cells, would you think that would improve your overall health?
I started using the BEMER twice a day for general health. Soon thereafter I began to notice an increase in energy and an overall healthy feeling. I then learned from Dr. Brookman that BEMER sessions would be beneficial in addressing my chronic shoulder, hips and knee issues. I would wake up nightly with severe knee, shoulder and hip discomfort. Exercise and stretching did not seem to work. Both shoulders, previously operated on, would ache anytime I raised them above my head or extended straight forward. Bench presses, push-ups and military presses were a thing of the past. I think that I have addressed my problem knees enough, several surgeries and years and years of injections, while I continued to lose strength and flexibility.
Using the BEMER attachments I began daily session on my shoulder, hips and knees. The self-administered sessions last from 8-20 minutes and were done on my schedule. As the session progressed I began to increase my level of activities. Within a month my shoulder and hip discomfort had diminished. My knees were stronger and I began golfing again. After several months of BEMER sessions I am free of discomfort in my hip and shoulder. I can now participate in light resistance training. I can do pushups, military presses and bench presses with no discomfort.
Additionally, my much beleaguered knees showed some signs of improvement. I could walk up and down stairs with no discomfort. Golfing was no longer an aching chore. Things were progressing.
MAKOplasty (Robotic Assisted Surgery)
In late August I had an accident at home. I managed to severely twist my right knee. Shots, icing and rehab would not work. Fifteen plus years of operations, therapy and injections had taken its toll. A decision was made for knee replacement. Once again I researched the best and most widely used methods and surgical procedures. I found a great surgeon who performs MAKO robotic arm assisted total knee replacements. We decided on bilateral knee replacement. I knew this would be quite a challenge, especially the post- operative recovery and rehabilitation.
MAKOplasty is used to enable surgeons to plan and perform partial knee, total knee or total hip replacement procedures by using three-dimensional computer imaging based on a CT scan. This allows them to determine optimal implant size, position, and alignment for each individual patient, and to map out accurately the areas of bone they want to remove. During surgery, the robotic arm system provides visual, auditory, and tactile control to help assure that surgeons cut away only the bone planned to be resected prior to surgery. The procedure is said to take the guesswork out of surgery, resulting in accurate and reproducible results. For more about MAKO click here: MAKOplasty
Choosing the X10 for My In-Home Recovery
A full and complete recovery was my only goal. A return to better days when I could be active without knee discomfort. To insure this outcome, I began researching various knee replacement post-operative rehabilitation options. I finally decided on the X10. Although the X10 is far from a simple device, its use by a rehabilitation patient is as simple as using a cell phone. The science supporting the X10 makes sense.
The Science Behind X10
I cannot do justice to the device by addressing the scientific facts of the X10. The X10 is a device that increases your range of motion and strengthens the legs muscles to better serve your new knee. There are many great features about the X10. Most importantly, it works. In addition to the device you also are assigned a coach who will work with you for the entire process. The coach delivers the X10, adjusts it to fit your body, demonstrates the features and explains the entire process. My coach was available 24/7 to discuss any question or concerns. User friendly is an understatement. It is easy to use and allows you to control every aspect of your rehabilitation. No need to travel to an out-patient clinic or to have strangers visit your home. You control when to rehab, the intensity, frequency and duration.
Pre-Surgery Delivery of the X10
Three days before surgery my Knee Recovery Coach delivered the X10 and set up some basic parameters. I began three days of “pre-hab”, allowing me to become familiar with the device and benefits concerning my strength and range of motion.
The surgery went well. I had a terrific surgeon and surgical team, two new knees in just a few hours. Amazing. I spent three nights in the hospital. The one thing you do not get in a hospital is rest. I got a lot of attention and expert care but no rest. MAKOplasty is relatively new technology for bilateral knee surgery, in particular for total knee replacement. I was glad I chose it for my surgeries.
I got home late on the afternoon of December 11th. It was time to start the post-operative rehabilitation plan. Stiff, sore, tired, but I knew that I needed to get started. I had an extreme amount of swelling in both legs (typical for me after surgery). I used ice and the BEMER to control the swelling. Then came my first rehabilitation session on the X10. It was simple to use, which was great, because I was in no mood to tackle any technical challenges. The session went very well, with some discomfort. The combination of ice, Bemer and X10 seemed to work. My leg extension and flexion numbers were as I expected, leg extension 16 degree and flexion 71 degrees.
Dealing with Soreness and Stiffness
The thigh muscles, calf muscles and shin area take quite a beating during surgery. Soreness, stiffness and lumps were part of the daily routine. The Bemer, along with a muscle roller massage stick, dissolved the lumps and diminished muscle discomfort, thus allowing me to fully participate in the recovery plan. It was a daily routine fighting the severe swelling while continuing the plan. With the help of my coach we modified the plan to address my circumstances.
By week two we had the swelling under control and the combination of the benefits of the Bemer and the X10 took over. In the second week I was walking without a walker or cane. I could go up and down stairs.
Thirty Minute Sessions
I won’t bore you with daily routine and changes we made. Suffice to say the plan was to use the X10 three 30 minute sessions per day. We complimented this with eight (8) minute morning and evening Bemer bed sessions and 3-5 additional sessions per day. Icing several times per day.
My leg extension angle (straight leg) went from 16º to 0º in both knees and my flexion angle (knee bend) increased from 71º to over 120º in each knee. This combined treatment worked for me. I feel obligated to share this with other knee replacement candidates.
It is not painless but you control the amount of pressure or resistance, it is not a day at the beach, but it is very effective. This is the fastest recovery I have ever had. The process is not over, I will continue with standard physical therapy and daily Bemer sessions. It is amazing that I could progress to this stage in just over two weeks of combined use of the X10 and the Bemer.
I took advantage of new technology for knee surgery and recovery, and the results speak for themselves.
Thank you to my great surgical team. I combined the MAKO Robot for surgery, Bemer for circulation and X10 for my recovery – a lot of new technology – to great effect.
This recovery plan made the bilateral total knee replacement a positive experience for me.
The X10 Meta-Blog
We call it a “Meta-Blog” because we step back and give you a broad perspective on all aspects of knee health, surgery and recovery.
In this one-of-a-kind blog we gather together great thinkers, doers, writers related to Knee Surgery, Recovery, Preparation, Care, Success and Failure. Meet physical therapists, coaches, surgeons, patients, and as many smart people as we can gather to create useful articles for you. Whether you have a surgery upcoming, in the rear-view mirror, or just want to take care of your knees to avoid surgery, you should find some value here.