Knee and hip replacement surgeries are amazing. The fact that doctors can take out bones and replace it with manufactured joints that work just as well or better is beyond me.

I do not know much about these types of surgeries, but I do know that they can help to improve the lives of people that we love. Just recently, my grandpa had both of his knees replaced. He waited to do it for so long because he was afraid he would never be as mobile.

Although he isn’t back to golf and tennis yet, he is able to move around only weeks after his surgery. His soreness is gone and he is pain free today and will soon be back to his active life. Even more recently, my neighbor Joe had hip replacement surgery.

He loves being outdoors and spending time at his cabin on the Minnesotan shores. I was amazed when he told me that he was able to walk out of the hospital the day of his surgery, with only the help of a walker! Both of these men are very satisfied with their results.

However, if I had to think of one thing that orthopedic surgeons could do to improve patient satisfaction, it would have to do with the mental health of their patients after the surgery. My grandpa became a little bit depressed after his surgery.

I think this is a normal feeling, for people who are very active, to feel if they are kept from this type of lifestyle for too long. I do not know what surgeons could do to fix this, but I know it was very hard to see my grandpa like this.

While I know that my grandpa had physical therapy that kept him a little bit active, it could not compare to the joy he felt when playing the back 9 with his friends, or competing against my grandma at tennis. I think that this issue applies to all surgeries that keep athletes from being active.

I experienced this first hand. After my hip surgery, I abruptly went from 20+ hours of physical activity to none. This drastic change in my life, routine, and endorphin levels caused me to become very depressed.

It also didn’t help that I had to sit the bench as the varsity soccer captain my senior year. It ended up being a year of anti-depressants, talking to therapists, social anxiety, broken relationships, and a disconnect from my family and some of my friends.

This made it hard to recover as well. I lacked the drive to go to physical therapy, and to really do anything. I don’t think anyone should go through this. I am not saying that all patients become depressed after surgeries, but I saw it happen to my grandpa.

And maybe it is a small price to pay for a pain free rest of his life, but It is something that could improve patient satisfaction. Fixing this aspect of replacement surgeries would make this procedure absolutely incredible.

2016 Scholarship Finalist

Mollie H

Lawrence, Kansas

The final question on the application was an essay question.

The essay question was:

How can orthopedic surgeons doing hip and knee replacement surgery improve patient satisfaction?

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