Section: Monmouth Medical Center News

After Successful Joint Replacement Surgeries at Monmouth Medical Center, Grateful Patients Are Inspired to Help Others

11/16/2016
MMC Joint Replacement Volunteers
Joint replacement patients turned volunteers Lauren Sampson and Bryan Garnett with Nicole Wilps, Assistant Clinical Director and Program Coordinator for the Joint Replacement and Spine Center at Monmouth Medical Center (center).

LONG BRANCH, NJ – Two recent patients who underwent joint replacement surgery at Monmouth Medical Center now share something else in common: both are so pleased with their results, they have joined the Joint Replacement Program as volunteers.

“I know the anxiety people have,” says Bryan Garnett, who had both knees replaced. “I just want to tell them how positively it impacted my life.”

Lauren Sampson, who underwent hip replacement, agrees. “It’s given me my life back - I couldn’t be happier.”

Bryan’s Story

Bryan’s knee problems started in college and progressed over time, despite three previous surgeries. By his early 50s, the cartilage in Bryan’s knees – which acts as a shock-absorber and provides a cushion between the bones to reduce friction – had worn away.

“My knees were bone to bone,” says the high school teacher and wrestling coach. “It was getting really bad. People were constantly telling me, ‘You’re walking funny.’”

The final straw came after some of his wrestlers accidentally barreled into him during practice, knocking him over. Bryan’s knees swelled up and the pain intensified. “I finally said to my wife, ‘I think it’s time.’”

The Jackson resident selected Monmouth Medical Center orthopaedic surgeon David Chalnick, M.D., who recommended replacing both knees at the same time. The highly experienced joint replacement specialist felt Bryan was a great candidate for bilateral knee replacement -- which provides a number of advantages for certain patients, versus two separate operations.

“Bilateral knee replacement is certainly more difficult than a single knee replacement, however, the overall recovery is quicker,” says Dr. Chalnick, medical director of The Joint Replacement Center at Monmouth Medical Center. “In the right patient, typically young and healthy, this can be a great option.”

Bryan spent about four days in the hospital, followed by a week in a local rehabilitation facility. He then returned home and attended outpatient physical therapy sessions several times a week for the next month.

About six weeks after the surgery, Bryan had his last visit with Dr. Chalnick. “He was so impressed with my range of motion and the way my legs look,” says Bryan. “The results were so good, he doesn’t need to see me for a year.”

Bryan also credits the support of his family as a key to his success. “From preparing the house for when I arrived home, to driving me to my PT visits, their encouragement was so helpful,” he says.

Lauren’s Story

Lauren had been an avid walker and worked out at the gym about four times a week. But several years ago, she developed pain in her thigh after walking just five minutes. An X-ray showed the cause was actually her hip: arthritis had worn away the cushioning cartilage, so her joint was “bone on bone.”

The 68-year-old Freehold resident tried physical therapy, but the pain still returned when she walked. That’s when Lauren knew it was time to get the hip replacement she’d been putting off.

After interviewing several orthopaedic surgeons, she chose Monmouth Medical Center’s Mark Gesell, M.D.

Lauren felt comfortable with the surgeon and his staff. “They are beyond professional – and I’m very critical about that, because that’s what I teach,” says Lauren, an adjunct professor in business and professional communication at Kean University and a faculty tutor in the writing services department at Monmouth University.

Dr. Gesell explained everything in detail and connected Lauren with a liaison she could call with any questions. She went ahead with a Mako™ hip replacement, in which the surgeon uses robotic technology to increases the procedure’s precision.

“Lauren’s hip arthritis had progressed to the point that the pain and stiffness was affecting her quality of life and surgical treatment was needed,” said Dr. Gesell. “A MAKO hip procedure allowed a very precise positioning of the components in her hip replacement. This procedure allows better reproduction of her leg lengths and optimizes the function of the implant, which will contribute to less complications and less wear on the implant.”

Lauren returned home just two days after surgery. Then she went to outpatient physical therapy three times a week for about four months.

“Every single person I dealt with at Monmouth Medical Center was unbelievable,” she said. “They were prompt, efficient, kind and compassionate.”

About six months after her hip replacement, Lauren walked two miles on the boardwalk and felt fine. “I’m getting my confidence back,” she says. “Last year I couldn’t do this. I was miserable... I even missed out on a trip to Italy. I couldn’t even do day trips!”

Now, Lauren is exercising again at the gym and at home. “My physical therapist couldn’t believe what I was capable of doing post-surgery.”

Giving back

In addition to crediting great surgeons and medical teams, both Bryan and Lauren point to Monmouth Medical Center’s joint replacement patient education sessions as an important component of their success.

“It helps you to know what to expect and how best to prepare for the surgery – before, during and after,” says Lauren.

“I was terrified,” she admits. But once she spoke with Dr. Gesell and took the class, she felt reassured.

In fact, during her hospital stay, Lauren offered to help out with future sessions. Today, she makes “rounds” as a volunteer – giving patients a survey and a T-shirt, talking to them and seeing if they have questions or if they need anything. “People seem really responsive; I love doing this!” she says.

Bryan has started volunteering with the joint replacement information session group.

He wants others to know that joint replacement “gives you your life back.”

“ You’re not sitting at the edge of the bed in the morning looking for your anti-inflammatories, getting the nerve up to stand because your hip or knees hurt,” he said.

For more information on the Joint Replacement Program at Monmouth Medical Center, call 732-923-7666 or visit barnabashealth.org/mmcjoint. To learn about volunteer opportunities at Monmouth Medical Center, call 732-923-6670.

Categories: Orthopedic,Press Releases