For the past 30 years, veteran radio broadcaster, Dan Kennedy, 66, has been a familiar presence for thousands of QC listeners who tune to WOC-AM 1420 on their morning drive.
Now retired, the man behind the microphone is hitting his stride at mid-life, thanks to a series of orthopedic surgeries on his hands and his knees over a span of 3 decades.
Before there were computers or even the Internet, a radio newsman’s greatest tools were a phone and his typewriter, and so the years of pounding the keys before deadlines (along with Dan’s love of piano playing) took its toll on his hands.
“I had a problem with carpal tunnel, and the doctors at ORA Orthopedics took care of me,” he says. “I’ve been going back to them ever since!”
His passion for news, golf, softball and basketball, along with a possible genetic predisposition to arthritis, brought Dan back to ORA in his mid 40’s for knee pain.
“Over the years, my knee just kept getting worse.”
To alleviate the pain, Dan underwent arthroscopic surgery at ORA so long ago that the surgery was recorded on VHS tape!
“Even during the surgery, in addition to cleaning up my knee, the whole team went around and introduced themselves and said ‘hello’ on camera for me,” he says.
“They made me feel comfortable, and they took great care. I’ve still got the copy!”
But, time takes its toll on knees and eventually, Dan knew that even as a young man, he was considering total knee replacement surgery.
“Up until I was about 45, I would still try to run, play softball, and basketball. I would go talk to the doctors at ORA, and they’d tell me to take care of my knees because I was too young for a knee replacement,” Dan says.
“But I was an older parent, and as I was trying to carry my kids, my knee would give way. Pain was affecting my life, and I knew it was time for knee surgery.”
“Dan was on the young side, but we consider each patient’s unique circumstances,” explains Dr. Cassel.
“His knees were bad. He couldn’t do what he loved, and although most patients have one knee surgery at a time, Dan wanted to have both knees replaced at once.”
Both Dr. Cassel and ORA Total Joint Surgeon, Dr. Joe Martin, performed the surgeries on both knees at the same time. Now, more than a decade later, Dan is still pleased with the outcome.
“I can walk 18 holes of golf without knee pain. During the season I regularly play 36 holes a week. I would like to blame my knees for my rising scores,” he laughs.
Regular checkups and X-rays with Dr. Cassel show that Dan’s knees are holding up well.
“We like to follow up every 3 to 4 years,” Dr. Cassel says.
“Total knee components are made of sturdy materials, and I’ve seen knees last up to 20 years. In that time, we check for wear or loosening of the joint, as well as the health of the remaining bone.
“The best chance for long-lasting knee replacements are in those patients who exercise and who are not obese.”
How young is too young for a knee replacement?
“We do see younger people in their late 30’s and 40’s, especially those with autoimmune or premature arthritic conditions,” Dr. Cassel says.
“If they can’t move, we’ll evaluate every case. What’s most important is the patient’s quality of life. Just like Dan, they need to be able to do their jobs and enjoy activities without pain.”
Dr. Cassel says for patients who need a second knee replacement, follow-up revision surgery includes taking out old components and inserting specialized implants and augments — all depending on the health of remaining bone.
For Dan Kennedy, he’s taking care of his knees so they’ll last as long as possible.
“Dr. Cassel says my knees look as good as they day they were put in: so far, so good. I’m still in the game!”