Climbing back

When it comes to knee replacement surgery the phrase: “No pain, no gain” takes on new meaning.

Just ask Charles Laudenslager.

For the longest time, he suffered from horrible knee pain.

“It was like bone on bone,” he recalled.

But the surgery at Williamsport Regional Medical Center he underwent was only the beginning.

Laudenslager, 79, of Williamsport, next faced a long rehabilitation process.

“I didn’t think I was going to be able to do it,” he said.

By following the program laid out for him and keeping a positive attitude, Laudenslager not only is walking again but returning to the things he always liked to do.

“I followed all the rules,” he said. “I can do just about anything now.”

Joseph Wood, director of therapy services, Susquehanna Health, said joint replacement patients follow a program that targets to improve flexibility, strength and balance.

A key is getting patients into therapy immediately after surgery.

It’s all about gaining mobility and reclaiming independence.

“Our average patient is here three days after surgery,” Wood said.

Laudenslager came to the Susquehanna Health Joint Center first as an inpatient.

He remained a few days longer than most patients due to pre-existing conditions.

In addition to being diabetic, Laudenslager had undergone heart surgery prior to his knee replacement procedure.

Following inpatient therapy, he went to a nursing home for a short stay before returning for therapy at the Joint Center as an outpatient.

Among the every day activities he had to learn to do again were climbing stairs and getting in and out of a car.

Therapy, he conceded, can be tough.

But Laudenslager, who worked as a pipe-fitter and welder prior to retirement, is happy he was put through some of the rigors of rehabilitation he needed to do in order to see progress.

Recently, he was able to power-wash his house.

He doesn’t quite have the flexibility in his knee he’d like to have, but that’s expected to come.

“I never was a dancer,” he laughed.

He’s very happy that he no longer has knee pain.

Wood noted that the Joint Center tracks the progress of its patients up to a year.

But a real key to the program is a pre-admission process patients go through prior to surgery.

“A group of them (patients) are taken through every aspect of care to help better prepare them,” he said.

Patients are asked to select individual coaches, who sit through the pre-admission process, to help guide them.

Laudenslager chose a friend who’d already had two knee-replacement surgeries.

Wood said the coaches play an important role as the patients cannot be expected to know everything.