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James McMillian

Getting on Track To Enjoy Retirement with a Smart Knee

Holy Name Orthopedic - James McMillian

In his years with NYC’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority, dedicated conductor and engineer James McMillian inspected an extensive 500-mile transit system. His job demanded walking on uneven ground and navigating the perils of electrical currents on rails — all in the dark. The routine took a toll, and he eventually developed debilitating pain in his left knee.

Seeking relief, James consulted Dr. Dennis Pfisterer, chief of orthopedics at Holy Name. Initially, cortisone and gel injections provided temporary relief, but over time, the need for knee replacement surgery became apparent. James decided to retire, prioritizing his well-being to savor the next phase of his life.

In 2022, when James decided to move forward with surgery, Dr. Pfisterer introduced him to groundbreaking technology: the “smart knee” implant. The implant allows for remote patient monitoring, collecting vital post-surgery data that Dr. Pfisterer could use to aid in James’ recovery.

The “smart knee” has sensors that track essential metrics like motion range, step count, and walking speed. After surgery, the data is sent to an app that both patients and their care team can access. Dr. Pfisterer could use the information to personalize James’ rehabilitation, make sure he is on appropriate medications, and closely study how his mobility improved.

Following surgery, James immediately began in-home physical therapy. He then transitioned to outpatient sessions at HNH Fitness Center, where physical therapist Christopher Cordero used advanced technologies to get James moving again, including neuromuscular electrical stimulation to activate his muscles and an anti-gravity treadmill to reduce pressure on his knee. Within three weeks, James was walking unassisted.

James is thrilled with the results. “My knee's functionality was at 100% within three months post-surgery,” he said. “A year after surgery, I’ve resumed exercising, running, and confidently using treadmills with an incline.”

The invaluable insights provided by the “smart knee” implant enabled both James and Dr. Pfisterer to monitor James’ recovery in real time. The data, along with the expertise from his HNH Fitness Center physical therapist, helped James make an impressive recovery that’s allowing him to enjoy his well-deserved retirement.

Learn more about James McMillian's Orthopedic Surgeon