Before my knee replacement surgery three months ago, I had ample basic information from the office of my orthopedic surgeon as well as from various medical sites on the Web. It would have been good to have had, in addition, "Total Knee Replacement & Rehabilitation: The Knee Owner's Manual" (Daniel Brugioni, M.D., and Jeff Falkel, Ph.D., Hunter House, 2004). Going forward, it is a good resource to have, even though I just happened upon it browsing Amazon. I don't think you get to the point of just taking your bionic knee for granted. It lasts maybe 10 to 15 years (I learned from this book) before you probably will need another surgery to make revisions. So it makes sense to take good care of it.
The book is filled with useful and fascinating information, even though I do think it would have been a more riveting read if it had given much more ink to the personal story of Dr. Falkel, the physical therapist on this surgeon/PT writing team. During two decades of helping others rehab after total knee replacement, Falkel suffered himself from increasingly excruciating pain in his knees. Finally, he had total replacements of both knees -- simultaneously, with a different surgeon doing each knee. This personal story is mentioned on the back cover and in passing a few times in the text. In my opinion, it should have had at least a full chapter, because I am sure other patients undergoing double replacements would have benefitted from knowing how he managed successful recovery and rehab afterwards. I depended a great deal on my nonsurgical knee to move about at first, so I am wondering how a double-replacement patient manages.
The book has nearly 150 fully illustrated exercises of increasing complexity to take you week by week, and month by month to rehabilitation. I have made it to the three-to-six months' stage, so there is still plenty of new information I can use. Next come six months-to-one year and one-year-to-life stages, so it never ends, really.
Speaking of fun, there are some fun facts tucked away in this 272-page manual. For instance, I discovered that one of the most useful devices for exercising is a Brasilian Futebol. No, that's not a soccer ball. Instead, it is a small rubber ball that soccer players use to fine-tune their balance and ball control. Knee patients can do numerous exercises with the Futebol to increase their range of motion, and strengthen their quadricep and inner-thigh adductor muscles, along with improving their agility and flexibility. If you can still get one for not much more than $10 (the 2004 price), I might order one. Checking the website (www.brasilianfutebol.com), I see the price evidently has gone up to $17 per futebol (plus shipping), but there may be a discount if you are a knee rehabber. Or maybe you can get lucky and find one at a second-hand sporting goods outlet or a yard sale.
I also learned that my bionic knee may relieve me of any need to install a barometer for my weather-watching and tracking. It seems, report the authors, that the phenomenon of bionic knee pain just before a storm is not an old wives tale. Receptors in the knee joints are sensitive to drops in barometric pressure. The approach of a storm brings tightness or outright pain in the knees -- something to look forward to as we anticipate the next tropical storm along the Carolina coast.
Fortunately, pain is mostly in the past after a successful knee replacement, recovery, and rehab. Every owner needs a manual ("no assembly required") to enjoy fully his or her marvelous new built-in walking toy.
© Robert G. Holland
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