Phil Sponsler: Knee-Replacement Surgery

“Subtle things made my experience exceptional—the caring staff, the quietness that allowed me to sleep well, the delicious food. It was all great.”

Phil Sponsler was anxious to get back to his walking routine—a daily two-mile trek through the woods with a friend. He was also tired of needing to take 5 to 10 minutes to gain mobility in his knee after a drive of any distance. But now that he’s had a successful knee replacement at Henry Ford Allegiance Health, he says, “I feel like I got the old Phil back.”

Phil’s pain from an old football injury had become progressively worse in the last several years. “It was making me walk like the Hunchback of Notre Dame and increasingly limiting my activity,” he said. “I was becoming more and more sedentary and decided it was time to do something about it.”

Phil went to see orthopedic surgeon Allan Tompkins, MD, who determined that Phil’s right knee joint had deteriorated to the extent that bone was grinding against bone. Dr. Tompkins explained the treatment options, both surgical and non-surgical, and left the decision up to Phil. 

“I liked that he didn’t push me in any direction and that his sincere care for my well-being was evident,” Phil said. “I had a choice of treatments, but I understood that at some point a total knee replacement was inevitable, so I opted to do it now. Regaining my quality of life was paramount to my decision.”

Prior to having surgery, Phil and his wife, Mary, toured the Henry Ford Allegiance Joint Replacement Center, affectionately known as the Joint Camp. “The same level of caring I sensed with Dr. Tompkins was present throughout the Joint Camp,” Phil said. “Staff explained the joint replacement procedure and recovery process to me so thoroughly that it took away my anxiety. I felt like I knew exactly what to expect and was able to go into my surgery feeling prepared and having total confidence.”

Within a day of surgery, Phil noticed that the pain he had in his knee was totally gone. “I had pain from the surgery, of course, but the staff was always on top of that,” he said. “I felt that managing my pain was very important to them.”

Phil gives his overall Joint Camp experience “a glowing review.” He added that “Subtle things made it exceptional—the caring staff, the quietness that allowed me to sleep well, the delicious food. It was all great.”

He also appreciated the Joint Camp setting, which brings together patients who are all recovering from knee or hip replacement surgery. “It’s good to be side by side in physical therapy with others who are experiencing the same thing,” Phil said. “There is a spirit of mutual encouragement—and I felt just enough competiveness to keep me motivated and working hard.”

The day after Phil got home from the hospital, he began outpatient physical therapy. “Dr. Tompkins had advised me to add my own exercises at home, so I made myself a spreadsheet and worked out three to four times a day,” Phil said. “That made a huge difference and helped me regain an even greater range of motion than we expected. I was back to work within weeks.”

Phil has returned to his walking routine and is feeling better than he has in years. “There really is no reason to endure serious joint pain and let it keep you from living your life,” he said. “We are really fortunate to have this level of care so close to home.”

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