AUSTIN (KXAN) — Modern medicine seems to have a new miracle for us every day. As our boomer generation eases into the golden years, many are discovering a joint replacement that can keep them living a full, active life for a long time.
Many have heard about hip and knee replacements. Now, shoulder replacements are also changing the lives of thousands of Americans.
69-year-old Pete Bishop is a retired IBM process architect. He loved rock climbing and swimming, but severe arthritis in his left shoulder knocked him off the rocks.
“I waited until I got to the point if I didn’t have the surgery I wouldn’t be able to climb,” Pete said. “And if I did, nobody knew if I could climb.”
Months of online research led him to the procedure and an old climbing partner who had had it done.
“It gave me enough hope I went ahead and bit the bullet.”
Doctors determined that Pete was a prime candidate for a new shoulder.
“You don’t put weight on it on a daily basis,” Dr. Michael Loeb with Texas Orthopedics said. “It doesn’t happen as commonly as hip or knee arthritis.”
After the 90 minute procedure, Pete was in a sling for six weeks. When he took the sling off, Pete was amazed by the results.
“Just being able to wipe sweat off my forehead with my left hand was amazing,” he said.
Weight rehab and easy rock climbs came six months later.
“I’m happy,” Pete said. “I’m very happy with the operation and outcome.”
Pete was so proud he brought Dr. Loeb a photo of his climb, and the doctor was in for a surprise.
“I held it up and said that’s pretty amazing, and he changed the orientation of it,” Loeb said. “He was actually hanging upside down suspended by the arm that had the shoulder replacement in it. I said ‘wow that’s incredible.'”
In 2006, 35,000 Americans had shoulder replacements. The number was 70,000 in 2013.
Doctors expect those numbers to skyrocket as the boomer generation continues to age.