Robotic-Assisted Knee Replacement Speeds Recovery for Bonnie Finley

September 28 2021
Robotic surgery at Longmont United Hospital

One of Bonnie Finley’s favorite things is taking her grandchildren to the playground near her home. It’s not a long walk but knee pain was making it difficult for her to keep up. Ever since she had her left knee replaced six years ago, Bonnie knew eventually the right knee would need replacement. Exactly when wasn’t certain but she says her surgeon, Robert FitzGibbons, MD, told her, “You’ll know when it’s time; the pain won’t be worth it anymore.”

In June, it was time. Not just because of the pain but because Bonnie knew that the latest technology for joint replacements had arrived at Longmont United Hospital. “I knew it was more accurate and it made sense to me,” she said.

How robotic surgery compares to conventional surgery
Bonnie’s story is unique because she has experienced two kinds of knee replacements. Dr. FitzGibbons did conventional surgery for the first knee; for the second, he used the robotic arm assisted technology.

With the robot-assisted surgery, Bonnie said, “There was less bruising, less swelling, and a straighter scar.” That’s because the technology uses 3D modeling of her bone anatomy for precision and helped her surgeon limit soft tissue damage with haptic guidance.

Rehabilitation starts right away
Post-surgery, nurses helped Bonnie start walking right away. From the first step, Bonnie noticed how stable her knee felt. At that point, the nerve block hadn’t worn off and everything felt great. Later, sensation changes. “There is pain but it’s painful before you go in,” Bonnie said. “The pain after will go away. It’s a relief to know it won’t be long and I won’t have any pain when I walk.”

After one night in the hospital, Bonnie headed home. There, she had the help of her husband of 44 years, Kurt Finley. He kept her supplied with ice to manage swelling; food to keep her nourished; and medication to control the pain. In fact, he even created a spreadsheet to make sure got all her meds and took walks on time each day.

When Kurt had to go to work, Steve Nikkel and Connie Lantry, Bonnie’s brother and sister stepped in to help.

During the first two weeks after surgery, a physical therapist helped Bonnie at home twice a week. That was followed by two weeks of outpatient physical therapy.

Back to doing the things she loves
Just a couple of weeks after surgery, Bonnie was back to walking to the playground with her grandchildren. And within one month of her knee replacement, Bonnie hit her movement goal on her Apple watch. “I hadn’t done that in a long time!” Bonnie said with laugh.

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Learn more about total joint replacement and joint reconstruction at Longmont United Hospital.