Mako Robotic Arm-Assisted Surgical Tool Reduces Pain and Speeds Recovery

David said he was greatly impressed by the coordination of the Southcoast Health surgical team with the physical therapists and his primary care physician.

Before hip replacement surgery, David Kent would grit his teeth and gasp with pain just getting into his car for work. He limped into the office, sometimes struggled when he had to get up or sit down, and could no longer enjoy many of the physical activities he had loved all his life.

And active he was.

He pitched and caught for his high school baseball team, played college football (he went to Occidental College, where he knew future President Barack Obama), was a tennis player, scuba diver, hiker, and for 17 years a competitive softball player.

By the time he was in his early 60s, David’s joints were wearing out and the pain was almost constant. He took 800 mg of ibuprofen a day just to get by, tossed and turned at night, and was unable to do the things he most enjoyed.

“Needless to say, my hips were in awful shape,” he says.

Deciding to make a change, he attended a free, online seminar about Mako robotic-arm assisted surgery with Dr. Joseph Lifrak, a Southcoast Health orthopedic surgeon who specializes in knee replacements. Although David had severe knee pain, the more pressing problem was that he needed both hips replaced before he could have his knees done.

After the seminar, he met with Southcoast Health orthopedic surgeon Dr. Christopher Skeehan, who introduced him to the Mako robotic-arm assisted surgery system. It would allow the surgeon to more precisely plan and execute the hip replacement, reduce the cutting the surgeon would have to do, and limit the damage to surrounding tissue, tendons and ligaments. That would enable David to get back on his feet — and to his very active life — more quickly and without surgical complications.

He talked it over with his wife Linda, decided to lose 50 pounds to speed recovery, and underwent the first hip replacement last June. The surgery took 2.5 hours, and he spent an overnight in the hospital. He used a walker for two days, a cane for three days, took Tylenol to manage pain, and was back at work after two weeks of physical therapy at Southcoast Health’s rehabilitation clinic in Fall River.

He had the second hip replaced in an outpatient surgery last December in an operation that took less than two hours. That night, he said, he was back at his home in Newport, RI, where he was able to walk up the stairs by himself. Elevating and icing the hip and leg kept the swelling — and pain — to a minimum.

Within two weeks, he was back at his job managing sales for Ryan Herco Flow Solutions, a leading national distributor for fluid-control systems with an office in Coventry, RI. He will have his left knee replaced in the fall, also with the Mako surgical system.

David underwent a total of about six weeks of rehab — riding an exercise bike, doing leg raises and static movements to improve mobility — from the two surgeries.

“It was a matter of weeks” before he had regained 90-95 percent of function.

David said he was greatly impressed by the coordination of the Southcoast Health surgical team with the physical therapists and his primary care physician.

“I have never been more impressed by the coordination of administration, surgery, physical therapy,” all connected by an app, he said.

Today, he and his wife walk 3.5 miles several days a week, and he goes to the gym to ride an exercise bicycle and to do leg and arm exercises. Within a few months, he hopes to start playing tennis again.

Now 64, he and Linda look forward to retiring to a home in Arizona to be nearer family after a career that sent him across the country and back several times.

“I have no pain now, walk perfectly, and I would say pretty close to 100 percent recovered. I’m a fan of robotic surgery,” David says. “I have nothing but gratitude for the entire organization. They have this process down.”

Click here to learn more about Robotic Surgery at Southcoast Health.