Tennis player aces recovery after double knee replacement to get back on the court
Charlie Bozsik picked up tennis when his now-grown sons started lessons as kids. Several decades later, the sport remains a constant in his life. Charlie values the exercise, routine and camaraderie with other players.
When severe knee pain took the joy away from his time on the courts and made household chores challenging, Charlie looked to knee replacement surgery for relief.
“I’ve always been active,” says Charlie, 78 of Williamsburg. “Ever since I was a kid, I ran around a lot. I played football in high school. But it got to the point that I had pain in my knees all the time.”
Advice from a friend
Before relocating to Virginia from New York, Charlie spent his 38-year career in the phone industry, hopping from train to train in New York City and jockeying his way up subway stairs. He had arthroscopic knee surgery to repair a torn ligament in 1985 after he fell going up subway steps. Once that healed, his knees fared well for decades.
About seven years ago, knee pain set in, and Charlie was diagnosed with arthritis. His doctor told him to let his knee be his guide on whether to limit activity and when to seek a medical solution.
During COVID shutdowns, Charlie worked on home improvement projects, painting the woodwork inside his home and kneeling to get at the baseboards.
“My knees started acting up, and I thought can’t tolerate this anymore,” Charlie says.
A tennis friend recommended Colin M. Kingston, M.D., an orthopaedic surgeon affiliated with the Orthopaedic Hospital at Sentara CarePlex in Hampton. Since Charlie was active and in good shape, Dr. Kingston recommended knee replacement surgery on both knees, starting with the right and then the left two weeks later.
“I thought, if I was going to be laid up, what’s the sense of doing this again in six months,” Charlie explains.
COVID surgery precautions
Charlie’s first surgery – on his right knee – was on Sept. 15, 2020, at the Orthopaedic Hospital at Sentara CarePlex. The hospital required a COVID test before the procedure. On the day of the surgery, Charlie and his wife, Jane, waited in their car in the parking lot until the staff called them and met them at the front door, took their temperature and walked them into the hospital.
At the beginning of the pandemic, Sentara Healthcare hospitals and others across the country limited family members accompanying patients. As time passed, the restrictions were amended, depending on the situation. In this case, Jane was able to be with Charlie before and after the surgery.
“They were extremely careful with how they dealt with COVID,” Charlie says.
A few hours after surgery, Charlie was up and about using a walker, guided by a physical therapist. The next day, he had a physical therapy session before going home. Two weeks later, Dr. Kingston replaced Charlie’s left knee.
PT and Progress
With both knees on the mend, Charlie attends PT to strengthen and stretch his muscles and improve his range of motion.
“Right now, I’m surprised that I can squat as easily as I can,” says Charlie, who also does prescribed PT exercises at home and ices his knees when they feel stiff or sore.
“Initially, it was cumbersome and painful, but I am happy with my progress and my range of mobility even after just two months of PT.”
Dr. Kingston has cleared Charlie to play tennis, but he cautions moderation for now.
“I’m easing back into my tennis routine and am absolutely happy to be playing pain-free,” Charlie says.