Sara Rubin – ONS Patient Story – A Patient’s Return to Competitive Dancing After Hip ReplacementIn the news
About seven years ago Sara Rubin was in a car accident that resulted in a concussion. After the incident, she decided to start practicing dance (focusing on ballroom and Latin) to help her memory. It was the first time she had danced since she was a young child.
“I solely viewed dancing as a way to bring back my memory and help me regain my confidence,” Sara recalled. “I was surprised when I realized after just a few short weeks that I actually had a natural ability – and enjoyed it!”
Potentially triggered by the car accident or normal wear and tear, Sara started struggling with hip pain. “At first, I thought I just needed to get into better shape which I aimed to achieve with dance,” she said.
As she ramped up dancing, her pain increased so she decided to be evaluated by a physician. Sara tried conservative treatment options such as cortisone shots, acupuncture and physical therapy. When nothing was working, she began to seek out joint replacement surgeons. After meeting a handful, she didn’t feel any were the right fit for her needs.
Finally she found Dr. Kevin Choo, adult reconstruction and joint replacement surgeon at ONS, through a mutual physician friend whom she trusted.
“What I appreciated about Dr. Choo was that he was neutral yet clear that he would be able to do a great job,” she said. The MRI confirmed what she had suspected – she had bone-on-bone arthritis in her left hip.
“Dr. Choo was meticulous and thorough – he explained to me the different ways to do hip replacements,” said Sara who shared that they mutually decided that an anterior approach was best for her situation.
While Sara was anxious for pain relief, she was also slightly apprehensive about surgery. “Other doctors told me I would have a long recovery period. Dr. Choo was more positive and said it would depend on my body’s ability to recuperate.”
Sara felt calm after her pre-operative appointment where the entire care team answered all of her questions. “Everyone from x-ray to reception was so professional, helpful and kind. I realized that since I trusted Dr. Choo, I was making the right decision.” Sara underwent an outpatient anterior total hip replacement at the Stamford ASC in June 2022.
“I didn’t feel any discomfort after the procedure, instead I felt instant relief from my hip pain.” Since the surgery was outpatient, on-site therapists helped Sara walk and try stairs before she was discharged that day. Sara aced the therapy session and started walking with cane at home after three days.
She began regular physical therapy sessions at ONS Harrison and experienced enormous progress with Omolola “Lola” Ogunleye, DPT, OCS. Lola helped Sara to incorporate specific movements into her physical therapy that she would need to safely return to ballroom dancing including balance exercises, proprioceptive training, core strengthening and flexibility exercises. She had full extension of her leg after about a month. At her 6-week follow up appointment with Dr. Choo, he cleared her to go back to the dance studio as long as she started slowly and avoided certain movements.
The very next week Sara returned to her dance studio, Danznik Studios, in Hawthorne, NY to resume training for ballroom dancing with her teachers Tatiana Banko and Brook Diamond.
The 69-year-old is now competing in the pro amateurs group at the Paragon Open DanceSport Championships in Stamford, CT on October 20. While she had no intention to compete in 2022, it became a reality due to her smooth and quick recovery.
Sara stressed the importance of meeting multiple surgeons to find someone who you are completely at ease with. “Always trust your instincts. Take your time to do your research and find the best surgeon for you,” Sara felt confident not only with Dr. Choo but with the entire medical care team at ONS.
“Don’t put off surgery if you are experiencing continued pain,” she advised. “Nobody is sorry they did it. Everyone wishes they had done it sooner.”