From Breakaways and Body Checks to a Bone-on-Bone Knee Joint

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“It’s a different life now, but I still have lots of fun.

Imagine. You’ve been involved in sport longer than you can remember. As you’ve grown, so has your strength, endurance and technique. You’ve put in the sweat to become as good in your sport as possible. You’re known for your work ethic, consistency and ability to come through in the clutch — your team has always been able to depend on you in crunch time. You live to practice and perform. You have a passion to compete. It’s in your DNA.

Maybe you didn’t really feel anything pull, pop or break, but next thing you know, you can’t get out of bed or walk past the doorway. You start to get worried. The unthinkable has happened: you’re injured.

If this tale sounds familiar, you’re not alone.

Dean Ziegler was a natural athlete — track, hockey, baseball, football  —  you name it, he did it, and excelled. What started as extra-curricular activities in high-school continued into adulthood, where Dean became an active hockey player, often hitting the ice six days a week.

In 2005, at the age of 45, Dean woke up one day unable to walk even 10 feet. A visit to his physician and a few tests later confirmed that the cartilage in Dean’s knee was completely gone: his knee was connected by ligaments and tendons, his joint bone-to-bone.

By the time he saw an orthopedic surgeon, Dean’s list of conditions included:

  • Extreme knee pain
  • Inability to walk normally
  • Inability to function without the use of painkillers

Dean underwent knee replacement surgery, which significantly improved his quality of life. Post-surgery, Dean was able to bend his knee 120 degrees — far surpassing the expected 105 degrees — and got off the painkillers. He adjusted his activity levels, did physiotherapy and committed to his recovery road so he could get to his next faceoff (as a hockey coach, this time!)

“Without the push from my doctors, physiotherapists and my family, I wouldn’t be where I am today.”

Adjusting his activities

Once Dean had recovered from his surgery, he committed to avoiding future knee issues and made some key adjustments to his lifestyle, including:

  • Forming a new relationship with hockey — off the ice and behind the bench
  • Maintaining an active lifestyle with regular exercise, while being gentle on his knees
  • Continuing his physiotherapy exercises
  • Spending more time with his grandkids

Today, he may not be scoring hat tricks like he used to, but Dean enjoys a relatively pain-free, high-quality life and continues to be physically active. He is appreciative of all the support he received from his team of healthcare professionals and feels confident he can continue to enjoy life without much disruption. Best of all, he knows that the team at the Alberta Bone and Joint Health Institute are on the cutting-edge of research, ready to share when he needs it.

Dean’s top take-aways for optimal bone and joint health:

  • Have patience and trust the system
  • Don’t push it — if the knee swells up, use ice and get rest
  • Have discipline — do your exercises both before and after surgery
  • Enjoy life!

Listen to Dean’s story:

MAP to MOTION

There is a significant information gap about bone and joint health in Alberta; MAP to MOTION is our chance to fill this gap. With support from our partners, MAP to MOTION will link information from all the different bone and joint services that Albertan patients need, acting as a central hub of data for bone and joint knowledge. By capturing and analyzing the data, healthcare providers can develop more personalized, more effective treatment plans that support the overall wellbeing of patients.

The first of its kind in the world, MAP to MOTION partners with researchers to provide clear and comprehensive information to healthcare providers as they work to create innovative solutions to improved bone and joint patient care.