Specialty Orthopedic Care Helped Robert Long Get Back in the Game

July 20, 2020

Doctor working on a man's back

Long, 75, was diagnosed with spinal stenosis, which occurs when there is a narrowing of the spinal canal, resulting in pinching on a nerve. This was causing pain that ran through his left buttock all the way down his leg. “It was excruciating,” he says. “I never had pain like that.”

Initially, Long’s orthopedic surgeon, Patrick G. Dermarkarian, MD, suggested more conservative therapies, like physical therapy or epidural injections. But the pain quickly worsened to the point where Long could barely walk. That’s when Long decided with his doctor that decompression surgery (also called laminectomy) was the best treatment for him.

Decompression Surgery

This procedure usually takes about 90 minutes and involves removing bone and tissue that may be pressing on the nerves, explains Dr. Dermarkarian. The surgery was performed at Manatee Memorial Hospital, where Dr. Dermarkarian says there’s a great support system. Often patients go home the same day, though sometimes they may have a short hospital stay. Long stayed at the hospital one night for monitoring.

“After the surgery, it was amazing,” says Long of the relief he felt. He went on to do outpatient physical therapy and also followed the BLT order: no bending, lifting or twisting for a while. He’s now happy that his pain is gone. “I have the highest praise for Dr. Dermarkarian and the staff at Manatee,” he says. “They were wonderful.”

Thanks to his successful treatment, he and his wife can look forward to traveling, visiting their four children who live around the country, and starting new adventures after recently fulfilling their goal of visiting the ballparks of all 30 Major League Baseball teams. “It couldn’t have worked out better,” says Long of his successful treatment. “I’m a lucky guy.”

First-CLASS Care

To help patients prepare for surgery and recovery afterward, preoperative classes are held regularly through a program headed by Andrew Stritzl, RN, BSN, Orthopedic Nurse Navigator at the Center for Orthopedic and Spine Surgery at Manatee Memorial. Classes are held for joint replacement surgery — including knee, hip, shoulder and ankle replacements — as well as spine surgery and surgery for hip fractures.

In these sessions, patients learn about topics like postoperative pain control, blood clots and decreasing swelling. Also, they are guided in setting realistic expectations about recovery and mitigating risks. Best practices like these can help “navigate patients through their surgical journey to have the best possible outcomes,” says Stritzl.

Ready, Set, Rehab!

Whether you’re recovering from a medical procedure or condition — or seeking to reduce pain and improve function — dedicated rehabilitation services at Manatee Memorial Hospital can help you get back on your feet and back to the activities you love.

Services provided include:

  • Physical therapy: Hands-on treatment, manual techniques and exercises to help improve movement and reduce pain associated with postsurgical conditions, sports injuries, work-related injuries and more.
  • Occupational therapy: Specialized care to help with the activities of daily living, like cooking or bathing, for patients with conditions such as carpal tunnel syndrome; shoulder, elbow or wrist dysfunction and postsurgical conditions; stroke recovery and more.
  • Speech therapy: Dedicated services to address problems involving swallowing, speech or language following a stroke, throat surgery or other conditions.

Also, specialty services are provided in areas such as Parkinson’s Disease therapy, lymphedema management, vestibular therapy for problems with dizziness and balance, and fall prevention, with community fall prevention classes including “A Matter of Balance™” and Tai Chi for Arthritis and Fall Prevention™.

Additionally, therapy is offered for advanced spinal care, certified hand therapy, neuro rehabilitation, orthopedic and sports physical therapy, return to golf, wound care management and post-rehab fitness.

NOTE: A physician prescription is required. Consult with your physician to find out if rehabilitation services may be right for you. For help finding a doctor, search for one online.

Specialty Care for Kids

Dedicated pediatric therapy is available to support children with delays in areas of speech, language, swallowing and motor skills, as well as social skills development. This may be beneficial for children with developmental delays, as well as those who have suffered a significant accident or illness, and babies born with syndromes or birth conditions.

Therapists use a team-based approach that can address multiple areas at once. “For example, instead of sitting at a table and working on speech sounds in isolation, we would have a child completing a climbing or movement activity while doing the speech sound activity,” explains Elizabeth A. Brown, M.S., CCC-SLP, Director of Outpatient Pediatric Therapy. Families also are connected with programs, specialists, support groups and social groups. “Our team uses their skills as licensed certified therapists, paired with compassionate and tender hearts, to guide our patients and their families to the best that they can be,” says Brown.