Your Health Today Magazine

Pedestrian pleasures

Scott Roberts

Scott enjoys a stroll with grandchildren Charlie and Natalie at the Saint Louis Zoo.
With two new knees, Scott Roberts is again enjoying walks with his grandchildren

Six years ago, Scott Roberts was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. In January, he began having problems with painful fluid buildup in his knees. And one morning last winter, he woke up and wasn’t able to walk at all. “I didn’t think they would flare up so completely,” recalled Scott, 54. “It was a scary situation.” 

His wife, Deborah, began shuttling him in a wheelchair to his job as a sales manager for a local sporting goods company. And in March, Scott underwent double total knee replacement surgery with orthopedic surgeon Robert Markenson, M.D., of Tesson Heights Orthopedics. 

Today, the Affton resident is using his own two feet to hit the Zoo and other destinations with his grandchildren.

"My whole life is my grandkids,” he said. “And now, I like to walk.” 

For younger, healthier patients, double-knee replacement surgery isn’t as daunting as it sounds, and it offers advantages over a single-knee replacement, Dr. Markenson said.

"My experience has been that patients do much better if you do both at the same time," Dr. Markenson said. "Oftentimes within a week to 10 days, the patient is doing as well as a patient with a single-knee replacement. As time progresses, they do even better, because you have two good knees instead of one.

"Scott’s doing great, and he has a good range of motion. It wouldn’t surprise me if these knees lasted him a lifetime."

A graduate of Cleveland High School in St. Louis, Scott followed the lead of his high school mascot, the Fighting Dutchmen, as he progressed through St. Anthony’s orthopedic therapy program. Altogether, he spent about 10 days in the hospital.

"Dr. Markenson and my primary care physician, Dr. Russell Won, were there every day checking on me–I can’t ask for any better,” he recalled. "Everyone in Ortho just took me under their wings. I felt like I was with my own family. That’s how good the care was. The first week, I had assistance, then we began exercise to build up my muscles. Twice a day, I had therapy in the early morning and mid-afternoon, for 45 minutes to an hour each time. And it wasn’t just me in therapy: I worked together with other patients and shared a camaraderie. Fellow patients would look at me and say, 'If he got two knees replaced, we can do this.'"

Robust care and a team approach have decreased the average length of stay and increased the number of patients who are discharged directly home, said Scott Meis, Manager of Inpatient Therapy Services.

"We're really focused on getting our folks up and moving as early as possible, many times on the day of surgery," he said. "Our physical therapists are seeing patients here in our gym setting, walking and exercising and tackling stairs, making sure they can function well at home. Our occupational therapists see everybody in their rooms, and we have a transitional apartment that folks can practice in, with kitchen and bathroom settings. One of our favorite things from a therapy perspective is having patients come in needing help and leaving here functioning independently."
Scott followed up with home therapy for two weeks, and even his therapists couldn’t believe he was back on his feet so quickly.

"People who are scared of having a joint replaced need to know that it’s worth trying," he said. "I'm one of the fortunate ones."

Joint replacement preparation classes

Are you scheduled for a total knee or total hip replacement? Optimize your road to recovery by signing up for St. Anthony’s free Total Joint Replacement Education classes today. Taught by an orthopedic nurse educator, physical therapist and occupational therapist, these classes cover what you can expect, from before the operation to discharge.