Dancer's comeback after hip replacement

September 30, 2008 11:46:35 AM PDT
A Pa. couple is winning again on the dance floor, thanks to something they saw on Action News.

20 years ago, Bill & Patti Underwood made a deal.

She would try golf, if he took a few ballroom dance lessons.

Patti never had to get on the golf course, because once Bill got on the dance floor, he was hooked.

"I became a fanatic, I was obsessed," Bill recalls.

Patti adds quickly, "Dancing is everything to us."

They took lessons regularly from Sandra Fortuna, of the Universal Dance Studio, in Collingswood, New Jersey. Sandra is not only a one-time champion herself, and a top instructor, her son Brian took part in the U.S. show, "Dancing With The Stars," and is now a competitor in the British original, "Strictly Come Dancing." About 10 years ago, she encouraged them to enter dance contests.

The couple has since won dozens of competitions, and last year, took several top prizes at the nationals.

But by last summer, their dancing future was in doubt, because of painful arthritis in Bill's left hip.

Bill remembers, "It was all day long. The worst time was at night. You couldn't sleep."

Bill pressed on through the pain, knowing he couldn't just bluff his way across the dance floor.

"The girl is the picture, and she is the show. But it all starts with the gentleman," Bill says, adding, "The hip is so important for the rise, the fall, the swing across the floor."

It all made Patti very nervous.

I was so afraid something would happen, you know, where his hip would give out, and he would fall, and then I'd be sitting on the floor," she says.

Bill, a heating & cooling contractor, said he needed to keep going on the job, so dancing was in doubt, as much as he loved doing it.

The Underwoods were on the verge of quitting, when they saw a story on Action News, detailing a new technique for partial hip replacement called Hip Resurfacing; a procedure that enabled tae kwon do expert Chuck Foley, of South Jersey, to return to his beloved sport.

In our story, Chuck showed how his "new" hip enabled him to again break boards with his foot.

Dr. William Hozack of the Rothman Institute did the surgery on both Chuck Foley and Bill Underwood,

Dr. Hozack says a younger, fit person, with strong bones, like Bill, is the best candidate for hip resuracing.

The device that goes into the hip bone is the same as in standard joint replacement.

But instead of removing the top of the thigh bone, and inserting a prosthetic, the bone is capped.

Some recipients say it feels more natural.

As Dr. Hozack spinning the joint within its socket, he says, "You can see how little friction there is."

He adds, "In some respects, it doesn't burn any bridges, and a young person, they might need another operation down the road. And you can convert to the regular hip replacement."

A month after surgery, bill was back on the dance floor, dancing socially.

Just 4 months after the surgery, this past april, the Underwoods won in 2 categories at the nationals - including one category that has 9 dances!

"It was just fantastic," says Patti, her eyes twinkling.

Dr. Hozack says of his patient, "I'm impressed...I wish I could dance that well."

What were once painful moves are now back in the couple's routines, and Bill & Patti say they'll do even better next year.

Bill says, "I don't even think about the hip anymore. We just dance & move across the floor."


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