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Same-day joint replacement surgery enables trip of a lifetime

Same-day joint replacement surgery enables trip of a lifetime
Champaign County farmer Robert Clem is climbing onto the tractor this spring like he has done thousands of times before, but this year he has a new knee thanks to same-day joint replacement surgery completed in February at Carle Orthopedics.

His was one of 982 same-day knee and hip replacements completed since last year. Prompted by a hospital busy with COVID-19 patients at the end of 2020, surgeons at Carle Orthopedics considered how to continue meeting the needs of patients who needed joint replacements. They decided that depending on a patient’s health, it was time to do more same-day joint replacement surgeries.

 “The patient has to be motivated,” Leslie Manohar, MD, Carle Orthopedics-Sports Medicine, said. “It could be participating in a special occasion like a wedding or a graduation.”

In Clem’s case, it was a trip of a lifetime to Ireland and Scotland that he and his wife, Laveda, had been planning for years. An expected eight-week recovery was shortened to four weeks as he and Laveda, also known as his “health care coach,” took the 6 ½ hour plane ride that culminated in a vacation of 9 days in Ireland and 5 days in Scotland.

Laveda Clem said the trip included visiting several castles and climbing many steps. “He did everything except kiss the Blarney Stone.”

The 63-year-old said he recalls stopping to catch his breath after walking downhill and then back up in one spot where there were more than 200 steps. “Knee replacement isn’t a piece of cake, but well worth it in order to stay active. I think all of the walking helped,” he said.

The recuperation was quite different from what he experienced six years ago when he had an overnight hospital stay after his first knee replacement. Dr. Manohar provided great directions regarding what to expect, eating a high-protein diet and how to manage the pain medication, Clem said.

Dr. Manohar, with 214 knee and hip same-day replacement surgeries completed, said she provides milestones for patients so they know how they are progressing, but ultimately it is up to the patient to take ownership of the recovery. Being cautious with a patient’s conditions such as heart and age are always considerations as well as getting the body prepared for the surgery with exercises and videos about post-op, she said.

Also key to successful recovery is the improvement in multi-modal medications for patient use and Carle’s Home Health and Therapy Services nurses who go to the home the next day to check on patients and become educators for each patient, Dr. Manohar said.

While his surgeon was confident he could manage the trip so soon after surgery, it is not the norm.

“For most patients what really jump starts recovery is being in supportive surroundings at home and using the new joint with common movements like getting up to go to the bathroom or walking to the refrigerator,” she said. The procedure allows patients to return to work as well as recreational activities such as tennis and golf in a shorter time frame. “This type of surgery is here to stay,” Manohar said.

To learn more about services through Carle Orthopedics, go to

Categories: Redefining Healthcare

Tags: joint, orthopedics, Orthopedics and Sports Medicine