Patient Stories at NCH

Brian's Story

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Fast Track to Recovery

Brian Rowe could hardly walk up and down the stairs in his home last summer because he was experiencing excruciating pain in his hips and legs. The northwest suburban IT security consultant was living in pain each day and often had trouble sleeping through the night.

"My mobility was becoming extremely limited," says Rowe, 54, an orthopedic patient at Northwest Community Healthcare. "I couldn't put my socks on in the morning and I couldn't walk across a parking lot without being close to tears."

Brian visited three orthopedic surgeons and he soon learned that no cartilage remained in his hips. The surgeons attributed his pain to arthritis and his profession, which required Brian to sit for lengthy plane trips around the world. By Brian's estimation, he flew around 250,000 miles per year to far-flung locales, such as Australia and Thailand.

"I was sitting a lot and the blood flow doesn't go into your hips," Brian says. "I needed a complete bilateral hip replacement".

Brian began to develop a plan of action to treat his pain and turned to NCH's Joint Replacement Program, which offers a "fast track" program for patients who are motivated to undergo an accelerated recovery plan following surgery. The fast track program significantly reduces the number of days a patient is in the hospital after the procedure.

Brian chose Richard Mannion, MD, a board-certified orthopedic surgeon, to perform the hip replacement procedure. "Dr. Mannion took his time talking to me and he was very thorough in testing," Brian says. "He described the entire process from attending the pre-operative joint replacement class to recovery in the fast track program."

Surgery to replace the right hip was scheduled in late August. For the initial surgery Brian decided to follow a traditional road to recovery and decided against enrolling in the aggressive fast track program.

"I did have a fear of the unknown," he recalls.

After the surgery, Brian checked into the Lutheran Home in Arlington Heights for five days of physical therapy before going home. Brian then relied on NCH's Home Care program, which provides visits from a registered nurse, one-on-one home physical therapy, and 24-hour patient access to registered nurses and regular physician updates.

When it came time to schedule his second hip replacement surgery, Brian felt he could handle the fast track recovery physical therapy exercises and protocols. Just nine weeks after the initial surgery, Brian had his left hip replaced and spent just two nights in the hospital. When he was released from the hospital, Brian chose NCH Home Care and continued his recovery from the comfort of his own home.

"With fast track, you have the joint replacement procedure and return home as quickly as possible," Brian says. "You get out of bed the day of your surgery and take a few steps. The day after surgery you walk across the room and the following day you walk in the hallway."

Dr. Mannion says Brian's recovery in the fast track program went very well because he was eager to follow the recovery protocols. Patients in the program participate in physical therapy exercises shortly after surgery. Brian was standing near his hospital bed just hours after the surgery.

"The key to success is patient education and following through after the procedure," Dr. Mannion says. "The shorter hospital stay facilitates rapid recovery. Most of my patients are offered the fast track protocol."

Following his prescribed physical therapy exercises at home, Brian was on the road to recovery. Just two weeks after surgery, he was driving a car. In November, Brian returned to work, just 12 weeks after his first hip replacement surgery.

"I had always been active in ballroom dancing and running, but I couldn't do anything like that before I had the surgeries," Brian says. "If you are at the point where you are in so much pain and it interrupts your active lifestyle, it is time to do the surgery and go through the fast track recovery."