At age 56, high school teacher and Grand Rapids resident Nancy Bruinsma felt she was just too young to give up the things she loved because of severe knee pain. Traveling abroad. Walking the dog. Cross-country skiing. Hiking and camping. Even gardening. "The pain and arthritis interfered with all of these things as well as work and taking care of the house," she says.
It was time, she said, to do something to get her quality of life back. Two years ago, she had had a traditional knee replacement on her right knee."This time, for the left knee, I was looking for a different experience as far as pain management was concerned," she says.
Nancy started researching her options and discovered that a new, minimally invasive procedure called MAKOplasty for adult patients with early to mid-stage knee osteoarthritis would soon become available through orthopaedic surgeon Thomas Malvitz, MD, chair of the orthopaedics department at Spectrum Health and surgeon with Orthopaedic Associates of Michigan.
Studies have shown that MAKOplasty not only can relieve pain and restore range of motion, but that it also can result in shorter hospital stays, faster recoveries and a more natural feeling knee after surgery.
How? This innovative new procedure uses a surgeon-guided, interactive robotic arm system combined with three-dimensional modeling and visualization to precisely resurface the diseased portion of the knee joint. This approach spares healthy bone, tissue and ligaments and allows for patient-specific alignment and positioning of implants.
"That was the carrot for me," says Nancy."Being on the ground floor of something new. It was exciting and I wanted to be a part of it."
Nancy made an appointment at Dr. Malvitz's office to see if she was a candidate. Testing, including a CT scan, indicated that she was. So this past April at the Center for Joint Replacement at Blodgett Hospital, Nancy Bruinsma became one of the first patients in Michigan to undergo MAKOplasty partial knee replacement surgery.
According to Nancy, "It went very very well.I was able to leave the hospital in two days, not the anticipated three. Plus, my physical therapist-the same one who did my therapy following my previous knee replacement-tells me thatI am maybe a week ahead in recovery from where I was at with the other one." By the second week Nancy was back to driving, the third she stopped using a crutch, and by the fourth she was able to go camping.
"It's been two or three years since I was able to participate in the things I love. Now I can go back to them, and I'm thrilled."