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A Man in Motion

Retired principal making great strides after double mini-knee replacement

Marc and Elyse Satalof

Marc Satalof, 64, has always been on the go. As a principal in the Philadelphia School District, he spent 33 years keeping up with the demands of  teaching and later becoming a school administrator before retiring together with his wife, on the same day, nine years ago.  He and his wife, Elyse, raised two daughters, and have been avid walkers and frequently travel throughout the world..

Unfortunately, the Lansdale man injured his right knee in an accident seven years ago. “My knee had to be reconstructed,” Marc explains. “I think from then on I might have relied more on my left knee, physically and mentally, causing greater pressure on my left knee.”

Once Marc recovered from his injury, several months later, he and Elyse still kept to their three mile walking regimen, and activities with their grandchildren and friends. However, he began experiencing significant pain in both knees about six months ago.

“It became worse at night,” Marc adds. “I decided to get two opinions on what I should do, and one of them was from Dr. (Andrew) Star at Abington Health’s Orthopaedic & Spine Institute.  Dr. Star had provided medical services for a number of our friends in the retirement community where we live, so I knew of his great reputation.”

Both doctors believed that he would not receive much relief without a double knee replacement. “When the opinions were the same, I chose Dr. Star,” Marc continues.

“I knew I would have expert care at either Institute location, Lansdale Hospital or Abington Memorial Hospital. Lansdale Hospital’s reputation for great patient care has become very high. It’s also nice that it’s so close to where we live.” 

Andrew Star, M.D. is chief of Orthopaedic  Surgery and Medical Director of the Orthopaedic & Spine Institute (OSI) at Lansdale and Abington Memorial Hospital. He notes that the minimally invasive techniques used at the OSI to perform joint replacements significantly reduces patient recovery time.

“This is especially important for patients like Marc, who needed to regain range of motion and eliminate pain in both knees,” Dr. Star says. “Conventional knee replacement surgery uses an eight to eleven-inch incision. In this case, recovery from even one knee replacement is a months-long process with a great deal of pain attached.

“At the OSI, we use total mini-knee techniques that spare the majority of the quadriceps muscle,” Dr. Star explains. “The artificial knee components are implanted through an incision that is usually no longer than four to five inches. We avoid dislocation of the knee cap and the result is less discomfort after surgery. Patients recover faster and return to normal activities much more quickly than conventional knee replacement.”

Marc adds, “From the moment my wife, Elyse, and I met Dr. Star and then toured the OSI unit, it was obvious we were in the right place. The rooms were beautiful and the staff throughout the hospital seemed to be rooting for you from the start.

He laughs, “When you have double knee replacement, you literally don’t have a leg to stand on. That’s why you need people you can trust to help and encourage you.  Light physical therapy, keeping the joints flexible, begins within a day of the surgery.

“I spent just four days in the OSI Unit before being discharged and readmitted to the Institute’s Acute Rehab Unit (ARU) so that I could continue my therapy right there.

“The care was extraordinary in both places,” Marc says. “The knees are worked very hard during the rehab in ARU, so I wanted to make the most of time there. I tend to be happiest when I’m setting and reaching goals. With such a great group of therapy professionals (and nurses) cheering me on, I made incredible gains in a very short time.”

Marc was discharged from the ARU at Lansdale Hospital after his ninth day. He used a walker for just one week there and then graduated to a cane for balance.  When he left the ARU, Marc was walking unassisted, using a cane for balance and support when in an area where there were many other people.  He continues his physical therapy at a center near home.

“My experience at Lansdale Hospital in the OSI and ARU was such a pleasant one,” Marc says. “It was like being part of a family, and my wife and I have been back several times to visit. We bring baked goods and other snacks to the staff who treated us so well. We also include Linda and Alvin of the Dietary department, who take a personal interest in every patient.”

Marc and Elyse are looking forward to getting back to their walking regimen and resuming their travels, and Marc is thinking of possibly starting to play tennis again. “Dr. Star thinks it’s a goal I can meet.”

The Satalofs are very devoted to their two daughters, their daughters’ husbands and their two grandchildren, Zachary, age 15 and Dana, age 11. “We see the family all the time and feel fortunate in every way.” So much so that Marc is also setting goals for a return to the couple’s volunteer work: delivering Meals on Wheels, volunteering with their synagogue in the Jewish Relief Agency program, and resuming his services as a volunteer AARP Driver Safety Program instructor and the regional trainer for potential instructors.

 “Everyone at Lansdale Hospital was so positive and interested in helping me get back to the things I love,” Marc concludes. “I believe I am an optimistic person, so this experience was just right for me.  I am so grateful to the whole group.”

If you see Marc and Elyse out and about, you might want to put on your track shoes. They’re on the move again.

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