Sam Mason Replaces Walker with Cane, Then Soars Over the Ocean on a Kiteboard
Sam Mason's hip pain started while working on a wind turbine construction project in Wisconsin. The environmental engineer from Tucker began having trouble getting in and out of his truck.
"All of a sudden I couldn't bend over to tie my shoes," Mason said.
Returning home from the construction project last July, he called Resurgens Orthopaedics and set up an appointment with Dr. Lawrence A. Bircoll. "I was amazed to find out I had severe arthritis in that hip," Mason said, praising Dr. Bircoll for explaining his condition and treatment options.
"As an engineer, I had a lot of questions about the hip replacement procedure, the kind of device they would be implanting, and how it would work," Mason said. "I was impressed with how much time Dr. Bircoll spent answering my questions and showing me in detail how my new hip would work."
"Because of his engineering background, he had a number of questions about the biomechanics and materials of a hip replacement," Dr. Bircoll said of Mason. "His level of knowledge about biomechanics pushed me to give him as much information as possible so that he was not only comfortable with the procedure, but actually looked forward to the operation."
Together, they chose some high-tech components that would improve the stability of the new hip and increase Mason's range of motion, allowing him "to tackle the activities that are so important in his lifestyle," Dr. Bircoll said.
Mason –– who turned 60 this summer –– scheduled his hip replacement for October, after his daughter's wedding, and spent several weeks using his rowing machine to get in shape in hope for a speedy recovery.
"After surgery, I was able to do all the physical therapy things in two weeks that they wanted me to do within two months," Mason said. "Within a couple of weeks, I was feeling pretty good. I followed all the rules, I did all the PT, and I recovered pretty quickly. I hated using the walker; it just got in my way. I graduated to a cane and used it for about two weeks, only because it was helpful for balance," Mason said.
Mason recovered from surgery quickly, he believes, because he followed Dr. Bircoll's instructions and paid close attention to everything the physical therapist told him to do.
In April, Mason was ready for an adventure. Since he has always enjoyed wind sports, he decided to take up kiteboarding, and began lessons at Fort Walton Beach, Florida. In kiteboarding, Mason explained, you use a large kite to pull you through the water on a knee board.
"I'm miraculously better," Mason said, recalling the times before his surgery when he had so much pain he could not sleep at all. "There was no comfortable position," he said.
Now, "I'm like a normal person — as normal as I can be and still be who I am."
Dr. Bircoll called Mason " a pleasure to work with," and said the engineer has "surpassed all of my goals for his hip replacement."
Dr. Bircoll practices at Resurgens offices in Decatur and Snellville. His areas of expertise are General Orthopaedics, Sports Medicine, Joint Replacement, Arthroscopic Surgery, and Fracture Care. He completed his residency at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, Michigan, and a fellowship in Sports Medicine at Emory University in Atlanta. He received his medical degree from the University of Michigan School of Medicine in Ann Arbor, and is board certified by the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery.