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Skydiving after total shoulder replacement? You bet!

Larry and Airspeed Larry Hill DZO of Skydive Arizona and sponsor of Arizona Airspeed returned to the sky at the World Free Fall Convention 2004 in Rantoul Illinois. Remarkably this was just eighteen months after total shoulder replacement surgery.

Larry spends a fair amount of his time while on the drop zone in the main hangar giving hands on advice to the maintenance staff or out on the grounds behind a tractor. It isn't easy turning wrenches when making repairs on heavy equipment, especially if one of the major tools is broken such as a shoulder that doesn't allow for movement.

At the time of Larry's replacement he had lost full range of motion in his shoulder. This coupled with the pain associated with the malady, prevented him from skydiving. Not only as a skydiver and a pilot was Larry affected, but the overall quality of his daily life was diminished as well. It was then that Larry opted for the total shoulder replacement.

Turning Points Shoulder replacement surgery is an option for treatment of severe arthritis of the shoulder joint. Arthritis is a condition that affects the cartilage of the joints. As the cartilage lining wears away, the protective lining between the bones is lost--when this happens, painful bone rubbing against bone arthritis develops. Severe shoulder arthritis is quite painful, and can cause restriction of motion. While this may be tolerated with some medications and lifestyle adjustments, there may come a time when surgical treatment is necessary.

What is a total shoulder replacement?

Total shoulder replacement surgery alleviates pain by replacing the damaged bone and cartilage with a metal and plastic implant. The shoulder joint is a ball-and-socket joint, much like the hip joint. The ball is the top of the arm bone (the humerus), and the socket is within the shoulder blade (scapula). This joint allows people an enormous range of motion at the shoulder.

Larry Hill When shoulder replacement surgery is performed, the ball is removed from the top of the humerus and replaced with a metal implant. This is shaped like a half-moon and attached to a stem inserted down the center of the arm bone. The socket portion of the joint is shaved to clean bone and replaced with a plastic socket that is cemented into the scapula.

Larry offers that his shoulder is the best that it has been in years and he is virtually pain free. Larry says that he is in high hopes of skydiving more often in the future, but for now he has mounds of dirt to move as Skydive Arizona makes way for its newest addition, the SkyVenture Arizona Wind Tunnel.




By Betsy Barnhouse on 2004-10-04 | Last Modified on 2004-11-06

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