When knee pain began to compromise his daily activities, Brian, a talented lawyer and sports enthusiast, opted for treatment with Carticel to help him get back to his active lifestyle.
Brian had a Carticel surgical procedure in January 2008 to repair cartilage damage in his knee. We asked Brian to share his experiences with those who were considering a cartilage repair procedure with Carticel implantation.
Q: What activities did you enjoy before your knee injury?
A: A lot of different sports including golf and baseball.
Q: How did you get injured?
A: I stepped in a puddle at a water park and slipped, my right kneecap landed on the ground and I heard a popping sound. A few days later I went to a doctor.
Q: What did your doctor do?
A. He did an MRI. They thought it was just a torn meniscus but when they operated they also saw a lesion on the femur and performed a debridement on the defect. The doctor called me later and said the meniscus had been fixed, but they needed to do another procedure to repair the lesion because the debridement was not successful.
Q. What did your doctor recommend?
A: I’d been going to him for years, so when he recommended a Carticel procedure, I took his advice. He told me he had done a biopsy and that it would be grown to replace my missing articular cartilage.
Q: What was your biggest motivator to have the Carticel procedure?
A: There was hesitation, but I knew I had to do it. I wanted to be able to do everything that a relatively healthy young guy could do.
Q: Was Carticel Care® helpful?
A: They were very reassuring. They sent me information packets so I knew what to expect. I would call them and ask a lot of questions and they were always very supportive.
Q: What was the surgery experience like for you?
A: My folks accompanied me to the surgery center and I was actually relatively calm. I went into the prep room and they put a nerve block down my leg. I don’t really remember anything else until waking up.
Q: What did you do to prepare for your return home?
A: I actually stayed at my parents’ house for the first part of my recovery. It made it easier to have people around to help. My parents rearranged their house so that everything I might need would be on one level. It was great not to have to climb the stairs.
Q: Any rehabilitation tips for other patients?
A: I set goals for myself so I would realize the progress I was making. Plus I tried to keep my mind off my knee. I picked up a couple of books to teach myself a new language.
Q: Did you use a CPM (continuous passive motion) machine?
A: Yes. That’s another time you felt progress in yourself. You would slowly do more, degree by degree every day. I said to myself, look at this. I am getting better and I can actually see myself getting better. It also really helped with the swelling.
Q: How many times a week did you go to physical therapy?
A: At first I went 3 times a week. After a month, it was down to two times per week. Then after 6 or 8 weeks I also went to the gym on my own. That was really the turning point, getting out on my own.
Q: What kind of exercises did your physical therapist have you do?
A: It was a lot of straight leg raises, leg presses and hamstring exercises to make sure the muscles didn’t tighten up and atrophy. I was on the exercise bike a lot, usually about a half an hour a day. We also did electric stimulation and ultrasound.
Q: Is there anything you would have done differently?
A: Absolutely. I needed more people around me. I had told my friends not to come around because I didn’t want them to see me during my recovery. I discovered the support of family and friends is really important.
Q: What’s the best piece of advice you could give someone who’s considering a Carticel implant?
A: If your doctor tells you that you need the Carticel procedure, you should research all of the websites and request brochures from the Carticel Care associates. The websites and packets were informative, and, most importantly, eased my initial fears.