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Howie Gruen thought retirement would help ease the severe pain in his arthritic knees, caused in part by years of standing on concrete floors at work.

“When I retired, the more I wanted to do, the less I could do,” said Howie, 70, of West Bend. “The pain left me exhausted. I couldn’t live like that.”

Howie had two total knee replacements, one in December 2017 and the other in March 2018. Edward Nelsen-Freund, MD, orthopaedic surgeon and Medical College of Wisconsin faculty member, replaced Howie’s knees at Froedtert Menomonee Falls Hospital.

Today, Howie is as active as ever. “I feel like I did at age 40,” he said. “I love my new knees. I got stopped by a metal detector at Miller Park and I totally forgot I had artificial knees.”

Dr. Nelsen-Freund said a typical knee replacement involves replacing damaged portions of the femur, tibia and patella. New components are secured with cement and can last up to 20 years. The type of implant used depends on the patient’s age, weight, medical conditions and other factors.

“As part of an academic medicine network, we have many options available that allow us to quickly deal with virtually any contingency,” he said.

Howie recovered from both surgeries faster than normal, primarily because he embraced physical therapy, led by Melissa Tauben, DPT, a physical therapist at the Froedtert & MCW West Bend Health Center.

“Patients generally receive therapy in the clinic two times a week, and it’s important that they continue to do the exercises at home,” said Anne Hase, PT, manager of rehabilitation services.

“I get patients out of the starting blocks, but they have to run the race,” Dr. Nelsen-Freund said.

Howie was motivated because he missed activities like woodworking and cutting trees for firewood on his 5-acre wooded property. It also helped that the rehabilitation center was just a few miles from his home.

“Our health centers are spread throughout the area, which allows patients to get quality rehabilitation care close to home,” Hase said.

Howie said his care was exceptional. “On a scale of one to 10, I’d give it an 11,” he said. “Maybe a 12. I can’t say enough good things.”

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