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John Fraser, Knee Replacement Patient

John Fraser - Midland, MI

"When I was able to get back to playing softball so quickly after a total knee replacement, I was thrilled."

Senior Athlete Back Playing Softball 7 Weeks After Total Knee Replacement

Before John Fraser’s knee replacement surgery in May, Orthopedic Surgeon Daniel L. Middleton, M.D., asked about his goals for recovery. John had an answer ready.

“I told him I wanted to play softball in October,” said the 70-year-old Midland retiree. In fact, John beat that schedule and ended up pitching a game the first week of July, seven weeks and three days after surgery.

John plays softball in a Midland league in the summer and an Arizona league during the winter. He also participates in the Huntsman Senior Games in St. George, Utah.

He didn’t want to give up softball – or golf – but when an X-ray of his knee showed bone on bone, John knew what was coming. “Dr. Middleton told me he could give me shots, but in the end I was going to need the surgery,” he said.

During the winter, John had increasing problems with pain, and his knee more frequently gave out and caused him to stumble. He decided to have the surgery with Dr. Middleton as soon as he returned to Midland in the spring.

“I was very comfortable with Dr. Middleton,” John said. “He was very good at explaining the whole procedure and excellent at answering my questions. He told me just what was going to happen, and we talked about how I was going to reach my goal of playing in October.”

A Smooth and Early Recovery

 Always active and fit, John has worked out at the Fitness Center at MidMichigan Medical Offices–Campus Ridge since an earlier shoulder surgery. These habits were the best preparation for a smooth and early recovery.

The late-afternoon surgery at MidMichigan Medical Center–Midland went well, and the next morning John started Joint Camp, a program of specialized care offered at the Medical Center after hip, knee or shoulder replacement surgery. To strengthen the muscles around his knee before surgery, John had faithfully done specific exercises taught at the program’s orientation meeting.

“We exercised twice a day. They wheeled us all to the exercise room in specially built recliners. We started with the exercises they had taught, and progressed from there,” John said.

“Everything was well coordinated. The nurses were very caring, and because they were specifically trained for Joint Camp, they understood what you were going through and what you needed,” he said. “The exercises were strenuous, and they hurt, but they progressed you so that you were able to recuperate faster at home.”

John spent two days at Joint Camp and was released from the hospital the next day, walking with crutches. Within about a week, he was able to walk with only a cane.

A Plan for Therapy

As he had done after shoulder surgery, John followed up with outpatient physical therapy at Campus Ridge, and even had the same therapist, Neil Sauer, D.P.T.

“It seems like everybody thinks I’ve had an excellent recovery, and I owe a lot to Neil,” he said. “He had a plan for what I did there and what he wanted me to do at home. It’s easy to go back home and not do it; but my main advice is, work hard with your physical therapist and be faithful to yourself with your exercises. You’re going to get out of it what you put into it.”

Three months after surgery, John’s knee and leg are still recovering, but he is walking and running and, of course, playing softball.

“It’s going to take a year or so for everything to realign and the nerves to readjust and rebuild,” he said, “but it’s hard to believe I just had this surgery. When I was able to get back to playing softball so quickly after a total knee replacement, I was thrilled,” he said.


Joint Camp offers faster recovery, higher patient satisfaction, lower risk of infection and improved clinical outcomes. If you need joint replacement, attend one of our free classes or ask you doctor for a referral to MidMichigan. To learn more, visit