Dateline South Pole: Total Joint Replacement Patient Kayaks Antarctica


When Lynn Bohlmann began avoiding stairs, it wasn’t much of a lifestyle change. After all, she lived in a ranch-style house. But when she began dreading the pain of getting in and out of her kayak, she knew the time had come to make a decision. “My knee pain was getting in the way of what I wanted to do,” the 60-year-old Davenport woman says. “I asked myself, what do I want to do with the rest of my life? Keep this pain or do something about it?”

Oct 2012 ChileLynn’s knee pain is common to many people over 50. Hereditary conditions, weight issues, and old sports injuries trigger arthritis that gets gradually worse. As with many knee patients, Lynn had enjoyed temporary relief from cortisone injections, but they didn’t last more than a few weeks and she had long-term plans. “My husband and I are retired, so we travel, hike, and kayak a lot,” she says. “Cortisone was wonderful, but it didn’t last for me.”

Lynn consulted with board-certified orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Joseph Martin of ORA Orthopedics. Dr. Martin is the only fellowship-trained physician in hip and knee reconstruction in the Quad Cities, performing over 500 total joint procedures each year. Since conservative therapies, including, cortisone injections and physical therapy, were no longer able to effectively reduce Lynn’s pain; she opted for total knee replacement.

Dr. Joseph Martin, ORA Orthopedics
Dr. Joseph Martin, ORA Orthopedics

Currently, over 400,000 knee replacements are performed annually in the United States. These numbers are expected to double in the next decade and by 2030 they are projected to increase to 3 million knee replacements annually. These numbers may even underestimate the true demand, as individuals are more active and stay more active later in life.

Knee replacement surgery has a very high patient satisfaction rate with 90% of knee replacement patients glad they had the operation, would do it again, and would recommend it to a friend or family member. These numbers are among the highest scores of any surgical procedure. Total joint replacements have been shown to increase patient quality of life and their sense of well- being.

“It took maybe 45 minutes of surgery, two nights in the hospital, and physical therapy,” Lynn says. “I was done with the walker in a week and the cane in six weeks. For me, it was no big deal.” While most people have excellent outcomes, Dr. Martin cautions not everyone will be able to park their cane so quickly. “Everyone rehabilitates differently, but most people are happy with their new knee. They can do the things they were not able to do anymore. They often say they wish they’d had their surgery earlier.”

“My surgery allowed my husband and me to go camping 4 weeks after the operation” says Lynn. Recently, they hiked 10 miles in Patagonia, Argentina. They are planning to visit places like Africa, Tahiti, and Easter Island. Lynn advises, “Once you decide to have your knee replaced, get into the best shape possible before the surgery. Walk, swim, or bike, if you can. Afterwards, do the high side of whatever your physical therapist tells you to do. If they tell you to do two to three repetitions, do three. Make the decision that allows you to live your life, and then push yourself to live it sooner than later!”

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