A Knee that can go Full Throttle

A Knee that can go Full Throttle Patient Story

UGA Swim Coach Jack Bauerle dives into active living

Watch a video of this heart-warming story.

When Jack Bauerle isn’t poolside coaching the University of Georgia swim squad, chances are you’ll find him on the tennis court, planning his next big surfing trip, or playing half-court basketball with his buddies.

Jack doesn’t watch life from the sidelines. That’s why, when knee pain cut into his ability to take life at full speed, he decided to get a knee replacement at St. Mary’s Hospital.

One of the world’s top coaches

Jack graduated from the University of Georgia with an impressive career as a Bulldog swimmer, breaking three school records, earning four letters and serving as co-captain for his junior and senior years. Jack has been head swim coach at UGA since 1979 and today is the winningest swim coach in UGA history, named SEC Coach of the Year 15 times and NCAA Coach of the Year five times.

The pinnacle of Jack’s career came in 2008 when he coached the USA women’s swim team at the Beijing Olympics. Under his leadership, Team USA earned 14 medals, more than any other nation.

“As you can imagine, I am quite active on and off the job,” Jack said. But in the last few years, knee pain began holding him back. “I can’t afford knee pain when I’m running up the deck trying to keep up with national record holders.”

A new knee

In December 2010, the pain got so bad Jack began looking into knee replacement. He had suffered several knee injuries during the course of his life and had reached a point where just walking or standing meant intense pain.

“I had been dragging my leg around for long enough; I couldn’t avoid surgery any longer,” he said. “I pursued the surgery probably five years too late. My surgeon told me I had the worst knee he had ever seen. I had no cartilage, no ACL.”

With the ability to go anywhere in the nation for his surgery, Jack chose St. Mary’s, the official healthcare provider for the UGA Athletic Association since 1999.

“I went to St. Mary’s for my knee replacement because they had the best reputation,” he said. “The nurses and staff at St. Mary’s went above and beyond to give me exceptional, personal care. I left the hospital feeling great about my results and my experience at St. Mary’s.”

Jack had so much faith in his team at St. Mary’s that he had his surgery mid-season. He was back on deck sooner than he imagined possible. In fact, Jack led his Bulldogs to the conference championships shortly after his surgery – and won another conference title.

“I understood that therapy would be key post-surgery to maintain the active lifestyle I was used to,” he added. So Jack built time into his demanding schedule for intense physical therapy. He worked hard to strengthen the muscles that support the knee and to promote the maximum range of motion in his new joint. It worked wonders.

“Four months post-surgery I’m back doing what I love to do,” he said. “My hope was to enjoy life without knee pain and that is exactly what I’m doing now, thanks to St. Mary’s.”

Championship joint replacement program

joint commission gold seal of approvalSt. Mary’s is recognized as a leader in total knee and hip replacement. St. Mary’s...

“We ask our patients to put a pin in a map of the U.S. to show where they’re from,” said Mandi Haslett, RN, Director of Orthopedics. “We’ve got pins from Louisiana to Virginia and as far away as Alaska, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico.”

A continuum of excellence

What makes St. Mary’s Joint Replacement Program outstanding is its commitment to excellence across the continuum, according to Mandi.

“It starts with the recognition that joint replacement patients are not sick,” she said. “As a result, we’re better able to help them understand and participate in every step of their treatment.”

Those steps include education, high quality surgical services, and a continuum of rehabilitative care that starts right after surgery. Depending on the patient’s plan of care, rehab may continue in St. Mary’s CARF-accredited Center for Rehabilitative Medicine, in the patient’s home through St. Mary’s Home Health Care Services, or at St. Mary’s Outpatient Rehabilitation Center and Wellness Center.

“Every year, we help hundreds of people reduce or eliminate pain and return to active living,” Mandi said. “If damage to a joint is impacting your life, and if medicine and other treatments no longer give you relief, you may be a candidate for joint replacement.”