Still crushing it on the basketball court ten years after both knees are replaced!
A couple of years ago, Craig Raucher (username raucher on the forum) was featured in our BoneSmart Spotlight with a glowing account of his successful knee replacements. You can read that inspiring story below this update and see that after his knees were replaced, Craig was able to return to playing full court competitive basketball, frequently with much younger guys.
As we close 2020, Craig is back with an update on how he’s doing now that his knees are 7 and 10 years old. The short story is at 69 years old he’s still going strong and enjoying his favorite sport! He continues to be an avid proponent for knee replacement surgery and the benefits it can bring mentally, physically, and emotionally to a person’s life. Craig credits the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York and his surgeon, Dr. David Mayman, for his continued success.
Craig is the founder and Commissioner of one of the oldest basketball groups in New York City. The organization will mark its 41st year in 2021. During its history, the Staten Island Basketball League (website: www.sibl.us) has seen over 350 players walk through the doors of the historic school building where they play.
Playing on this beautiful court transports you back to a different time and offers a bit of a Fountain of Youth for those who compete here. The players are from all walks of life, different religions and nationalities, all with the same desire to win and stay on the court. They are rocket scientists, detectives, grad students, businessmen, fire department lieutenants, teachers, physician’s assistants, construction workers, politicians, lawyers and more – glued together for the love of the game.
Up until the Corona virus hit in March and the league was forced to close down, Craig played full court competitive basketball 3 time a week, with each session spanning several hours.
As Craig describes it:
“I have no issues with range of motion. No soreness, pain, or stiffness. I have stayed in fairly good shape over the years by working out, running on a treadmill, stretching, lifting weights, and other physical activity. The average age of the League’s players is 40 years, so at age 69, I must be able to compete strongly or not play at all. It is true that I am not as resilient as I was years ago and I do not have the same stamina, but I am a good shooter, rebounder, and defender and I play every aspect of the game competitively.”
“Having my knees replaced was one of the very best medical decisions I have ever made. I was in constant pain, limping around, stiff, and generally miserable. As a long-time basketball player and jogger, both my knees were operated on over the years and I lost all cartilage. The pain from arthritis was almost unbearable.”
Craig stresses that the surgery alone is only one component of his success. Equally important is the pre-op work he put in to get himself in the best possible condition followed by a structured post-op exercise program to regain strength and flexibility. This was key to him getting back to where he wanted to be – on the basketball court with full range of motion in his knees.
Like many people facing the decision of having total knee replacement surgery, Craig concedes it can be scary and overwhelming. However, he stresses that if you do your research into a great surgeon and hospital and understand the huge benefits to the quality of your life, it is a decision that will have a profound positive effect on your quality of life. This philosophy fits whether a person enjoys 3 hours of competitive basketball multiple times a week or just wants to enjoy simple day-to-day activities without feeling miserable.
For the first 2 weeks Craig worked with a home therapist and had a nurse monitoring his progress. By week 3 he was ready to transfer to outpatient therapy to up the intensity a bit. Formal therapy was done 3 times a week for many weeks and in between sessions he walked slowly on his home treadmill. After several months, Craig made his first appearance at the gym and gradually began to use the machines to build both upper and lower body strength. He incorporated stretching statically, bands and kettle bells into the program as he went along. At each step, Craig was careful to make sure that none of the exercises resulted in significant pain or increased swelling. It was a slow, steady process of increasing strength and agility.
And now, Craig has even more reason to keep his knees in good shape – a brand new grandson! We look forward to seeing this little guy on the court with Grandpa one of these days soon.
To watch Craig and other members of the Staten Island Basketball League in action, check out this YouTube video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W-TuQzZQyTU and this one showing Craig (in the gray t-shirt) taking some great shots during a game of horse. Notice how smoothly those knees are working!