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New hip makes Doctor feel like a man

November 7, 2000

BY DR. JAMES BRAGMAN

ON MAY 26, A MAJOR CHANGE FOR THE better occurred in my life. I underwent a total hip replacement at age 44.

The procedure was not the result of an accident. It did not come from injuries from contact sports such as football or hockey, but rather from years of competitive squash and tennis.

Contributing to the condition was hypermobility in my hip joints, manifested by my ability to wrap my legs around my neck. Although this is a good party trick, it's a curse in disguise because a hypermobile joint is more predisposed to degenerative osteoarthritis.

Following my operation which was performed by Perry Green III, a renowned total joint specialist at William Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak my recovery was far quicker than usual because of years of lifting weights three times per week. It has been demonstrated that your preoperative physical condition and mental attitude will be reflected in your postoperative recovery time.

No matter what your age, I recommend a preoperative upper body strengthening program since, at minimum, you will need to transfer yourself from a bed to a lavatory, use a walker and, later, a cane. Normally, with a hip replacement, you will be required to use a walker for 4 to 6 weeks and then you can go freestyle. Most orthopedic surgeons will not allow you to drive for approximately one month.

Exercise helps the body bounce back

In my first month, I began water therapy at Barnum School in Birmingham. I began to retrain the hip, abductor and gluteal muscles that were surgically cut. At 6 weeks, I was allowed to begin lifting weights with my legs to rebuild the atrophied muscles. After a couple of weeks in the water at Barnum, I graduated to land exercises, under the direction of Alvin Miller, who is a certified physical therapist of advanced physical therapy in Farmington Hills. He has an excellent program for gradually bringing you along week by week, as your muscles become stronger and you are able to bear weight. Two of his exercises were sitting on a stool and propelling yourself across the room using just your legs, and running in place on a trampoline while playing catch with a basketball.

Finally, I graduated to a slide board and sports-specific, change-of-direction moves. I was fortunate enough to begin lightly hitting a tennis ball at 7 weeks post-op. Now, at 20 weeks, I can say that I am moving at 85 percent or more of capacity. I expect a full recovery over the next 6 to 8 weeks.

Total hip and knee operations are two of the greatest developments in medicine in the past 25 years. They have improved the quality of life of many active individuals.

If you are walking in great pain and exhibit a profound limp, as I did for 1 1/2 years before my operation, then you should consider a consultation with an orthopedic surgeon who performs a high volume of total hip replacements.




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