Hip replacement patient impressed by his team’s approach

photo by: Contributed

Steve Knoll had a hip replacement last year.

Steve Knoll is no stranger to health care. Owning and operating Knoll Patient Supply, a home medical equipment company, gave him an inside look into the health care industry for 25 years before he sold the business and retired in 2005.

Knoll and his wife, Sally, purchased Spirit Lake, a 100-acre retreat center which includes an 11-acre lake east of Perry Lake. They built a home for themselves and renovated the buildings on the property, renting them out to groups for events including business retreats, church groups and family reunions.

Things were going well after Knoll sold the retreat center and began renovating a house in Lawrence, but with all of the walking involved, he began experiencing pain in his knee and hip.

“The pain in my left hip overtook what I felt in my knee,” he said. “For two weeks, I was stretching, resting and icing the hip, but nothing improved it at all.”

That’s when Knoll decided it was time to contact his primary care provider for help. After an examination, the doctor sent Knoll for X-rays to help determine the best course of treatment. Those images revealed bone-on-bone arthritis in his hip, so the next step was a referral to an orthopedic physician.

“I wanted to transition my care to Lawrence to remain close to home and had only heard good things about OrthoKansas, so I requested a referral,” Knoll said. “Several of our friends work at LMH Health and others have had great experiences there.”

Making a plan

In June 2023, Knoll turned to Dr. James Huston, an orthopedic surgeon at OrthoKansas, for help. During the first visit, Knoll had another set of X-rays taken to help determine the extent of the damage to his hip. Huston said having additional imaging isn’t unusual.

“Many times, X-rays that are obtained outside of the orthopedic clinic aren’t ‘weight bearing’ images, meaning the patient is lying down instead of standing up. The joint space tends to compress when the patient is standing, so the weight-bearing X-rays give a more complete indication of the severity of the arthritis,” he said. “We often get some additional views in order to fully assess the size, shape and alignment of the bones, which helps create a thorough surgical plan.”

Huston determined the best course of treatment for Knoll was a total hip replacement. He explained the procedure and what to expect, and then asked how soon Knoll would be interested in surgery.

“He told me that some people are reluctant to have surgery and put it off, but that wasn’t the case for me,” Knoll said. “I just needed to delay until the end of the month so that I’d be finished with my duties as president of the Topeka Rotary Club. After that, I was all in.”

Surgery and therapy

Knoll took it easy for the next couple of weeks before surgery on July 6. He and Sally arrived at the LMH Health Main Campus anticipating an overnight stay following the procedure. Huston said that while some patients have outpatient surgery at the West Campus, most who opt for surgery at the Main Campus stay overnight.

“We try to have patients up and walking with the therapists and nurses on the day of surgery,” Huston said. “While some patients do go home from the hospital the same day, we often keep them overnight so they can have more therapy before going home the following day.”

Surgery went off without a hitch and Knoll settled in a room around 4 p.m. He was out of bed that same night and walking without any pain. When he needed to get up in the early hours of the morning to use the restroom, he was wowed by the care the nurses provided.

“I wasn’t allowed to get up and move on my own. Even that early in the morning, the staff was extraordinary,” Knoll said. “They needed to take my vitals and did it as I settled back into bed instead of having to come back and wake me a little later. The nurses were thinking about me as a person instead of a rigid timetable.”

Knoll used a walker for ten days after being discharged from the hospital and graduated to using a cane. It was also time for the second part of his treatment plan — physical therapy at the LMH Health West Campus. Knoll worked with two therapists during his treatment, including Mitch Montgomery.

“Steve was doing well at his first visit. He was transitioning out of using an assistive device when walking,” Montgomery said. “He had some mobility limitations on the hip that was replaced and some post-operative strength deficits, which are both expected following surgery.”

Initially, Knoll’s therapy included exercises to restore his range of motion and work on his walking mechanics. He gradually progressed into strengthening, balance and stability training that would help him return to the activities and lifestyle he enjoyed prior to surgery. Montgomery said Knoll put in the hard work, both in therapy and at home.

“Steve is a perfect example of the benefits of following through with a home program,” Montgomery said. “When patients do their home exercises, they’re able to get back to a level of functional strength quicker and more efficiently, which gets them back to the activities they love.”

Two and a half months after surgery, Montgomery felt that Knoll was ready to continue recovering on his own. While he still had some minor balance limitations, Knoll was already getting back into his normal routine.

“Steve had returned to his morning walking routine, where he was increasing his distance nicely, mowing the lawn, and I remember he mentioned he’d started dancing again,” Montgomery said. “It really goes to show how far you can come by working hard.”

Success is just around the corner

Recovering from a hip replacement takes time, effort and a willingness to work hard to get better. Huston explained that it typically takes about a year to fully improve in terms of balance, endurance and strength.

“Everyone starts from a unique position entering a joint replacement, but most people are able to return to their full activities within a few weeks to months after surgery,” he said. “As long as you work hard in the rehab process and we all do our part along the way, most patients can find success after a joint replacement. I hope for Steve to be able to do anything he wants on this hip for the next 20 years or more.”

Knoll continues to improve each and every day. He credits much of that improvement to the patient-first care he’s received at OrthoKansas and LMH Health.

“We’ve been involved in the health care industry for years. Everyone talks about patient-centered care and very few deliver it,” Knoll said. “Everyone from Dr. Huston to the folks on the floor had a smile on their face and were concerned about my well-being, care and comfort. They wanted to do what was right for me and not their schedules. That approach starts at the top and is carried through the whole system — it doesn’t get lost at LMH.”

Huston said he was humbled by the compliment and proud of the comprehensive musculoskeletal care he and the team provide.

“We’re focused on listening to the patient, evaluating their situation and working together to create and execute the best plan of action to get them feeling better and back to their lives,” he said. “As one of two programs in Kansas to have earned advanced certification for total hip and knee replacement from The Joint Commission, patients can be assured that they’ll get the best care in the region at OrthoKansas.”

— Autumn Bishop is the marketing manager and content strategist at LMH Health.


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