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Robotic arm-assisted orthopedic surgery helps grandmother stay active

For Liz Avila, staying active so she can keep up with her five grown children and 16 grandchildren has recently become a new part of her daily routine. 

Before arthritic pain in her left hip took over, which was worsened by over-zealous tubing last summer, Liz wasn't doing much to keep her body in shape. 

"I got lazy and I wasn't moving or working out," says Liz, who started exercising in her gym's pool by walking, running, dancing and weight training for two hours a day.

"It took pressure off my body and I felt maybe it could help my arthritis but that just wasn't the case," she says. 

“That was when I was told to look into a total hip replacement,” says the 61-year-old Wichitan.

She consulted with her primary care doctor, who referred her to orthopedic surgeon Samuel Ashby, DO, with Ascension Medical Group

Because of COVID-19, she met with Dr. Ashby first via Zoom and was scheduled for a CT scan, which confirmed the need for surgery. 

Initially, Liz had qualms about having her hip replaced, based on her sister’s knee replacement experience last year. “Her body wasn’t prepared for recovery, so she’s still healing.” 

That was offset by having watched her husband, Jim, put off rotator cuff surgery, which led to him having permanent muscle loss as a result.

As her surgery approached, her fears of complications, a lengthy recovery process or a major scar proved unfounded.

“My surgery took less than two hours,” she says, noting that because  Dr. Ashby performed her surgery using the Mako Robotic Arm, “I only have two very small incisions.” 

The minimally invasive Mako procedure typically takes less time to perform and results in a faster recovery time than an open procedure, says Dr. Ashby, who is one of the only surgeons performing total hip replacements in Wichita.

"Only a couple weeks after surgery, my physical therapy began feeling like workouts and then I was cleared to return to the water within six weeks," says Liz, who recovered ahead of schedule. 

The typical recovery time for a patient undergoing a Mako-assisted total hip replacement can take up to six weeks before a patient begins performing low-impact exercises without a physical therapist, says Dr. Ashby.

“If I could give anyone advice about going through a surgery like this, it would be to start or stay moving while you still can,” says Liz, noting that her physical therapist attributed her quick recovery to her pre-surgical exercise habits.

She’s also relieved to have the pain and fear of doing further damage to her hip behind her.

“If I hadn’t found out how serious it was, I would have talked myself out of it and would still be in pain,” she says. 

As for her surgeon, she’s happy that her doctor sent her to Dr. Ashby, who she describes as “very personable, involved and caring.”

Says Liz: “He has great bedside manners and his whole team was just as wonderful.”

 

Click here to learn more about Ascension Via Christi Orthopedics, or call 316-613-4640 in Wichita or 620-235-7594 in Pittsburg.

About Taylor Valdez

Curly hair with straight priorities. Dedicated workaholic and weekend adventurer. When I'm not writing or working, I'm shopping, chowing down on local bites or binging Netflix.