U.S. Army Veteran Rick Rader was in severe pain in both knees. “It was bone-on-bone and I couldn’t even walk. I was an invalid in my own home. It wasn’t fun,” he recalls.

When the shots and other treatments he was getting stopped working, Rader opted for surgeries to replace both knees – with a difference. Instead of being hospitalized for three or four days, as is common, he was in and out within two. The reason was a new way of performing joint surgery. The short-stay joint replacement protocol was developed at Lebanon [PA] VA Medical Center.

Dr. Kate Deisseroth put Veteran Rick Rader back on his feet and ready to compete.

“Total knee replacement is one of the most common elective orthopedic surgeries in the United States,” says Dr. Kate Deisseroth, the Lebanon VAMC orthopedic surgeon and U.S. Air Force Veteran who operated on Rader. “About 600,000 knee replacements are performed each year.” She says the standard procedure can be painful as well as drawn out.

Thanks to a team approach and specialized pain management methods, Deisseroth had Rader out of the hospital and back on his feet quickly. Once out, he was ready to train for his next goal: competing in the 2019 National Veterans Golden Age Games, which VA hosts.

Bringing home the gold

Veteran Rick Rader, quadruple gold winner.

Seven months later, Rader brought home four gold medals: in badminton doubles, the 50-meter backstroke, the 50-meter freestyle and 75-meter medley relay. He also won a silver medal in badminton singles and a bronze for the 25-meter backstroke.

“To compete against some of the best Veteran athletes in the world is a tribute to what’s going here,” he says.

Rader’s success has inspired other Veterans, according to Heather Bratton, who is a physician assistant in orthopedics. Bratton assisted Deisseroth with the new short-stay procedure.

“We’re really excited because we have Veterans now asking for the doctor who helped the athletes for the Golden Age Games. The Veterans are seeing great success. They’re happy to be going home and getting on with their life,” she says.

Rader is pleased. “The doctors did their job and it was just time for me to do mine. I’m so grateful.”

Angela King-Sweigart is a public affairs specialist with the Lebanon VA Medical Center. Photos are courtesy King-Sweigart and the Lebanon VA Medical Center Voluntary Service.

Share this story

Published on Dec. 13, 2019

Estimated reading time is 2.1 min.

Views to date: 484


  1. tom norton December 19, 2019 at 12:04 pm

    TKR at Oteen, NC Charles George VAMC went well for me, definitely grateful even my other bone on bone knee isn’t as painful since I have a ‘good leg to stand on’. lot of anxiety lifted, I had a bit of pain due likely over-exertion before knee was well healed up but fine otherwise. I live alone so stayed in the community living center for a few days for 2x daily rehab. cost effective vs home care and rehab home visits.

  2. John G. Strieker December 18, 2019 at 9:51 pm

    Can anyone tell what VA benefits an Army Reservist would be entitled to if any ?
    When I went to apply for Veteran status on my Illinois driver’s license I was told by the local Veteran’s Service Officer that I was not considered to be a veteran in the eyes of the Federal Government.
    Thanks to our past governor Rauner, a law was signed giving me that status on my driver’s license.

  3. Daniel schwartzmeyer December 18, 2019 at 9:20 pm

    I have to say that I had a TKR at the S.F.V.A and it is now fourteen months and my knee sucks.
    Last time I was in there my doctor said see you next year, never spent more then eight or ten minuets with me on follow ups from surgery. Last time I was there six weeks ahead of time I said I wanted to see my X-Ray, when I went in no name on X-Ray showing perfect healing. Before I was about to get surgery a young doctor came up and introduced herself, excited and said she was going assist and that she herself had done many surgeries ie,TKR. Before the operation I talked to my surgeon and emphasized I wanted him to do the surgery, he said this a teaching hospital but I again said Regardless, I wanted him to do the surgery and he said that he would.

    Right after the surgery social services left some materials with me and asked my how it went, I said
    have no idea but I feel no pain. Social Service said that before I leave the hospital to get an x-Ray and that’s important prior to leaving and was required. I asked about getting this last X-Ray prior to leaving and the head nurse was really stressed and said they were going to discharge me in minuets, I again said that S/S said not to be discharged without the X-Ray so she reluctantly had me go to Radiology. I got the X-Ray and was still in my bed about to be discharged and Radiology came back and said that I needed to get another X-Ray, the pic was bad, but the head nurse said your fine and discharged me.
    I was anxious to get out and she was anxious to free up a bed, I said Radiology wants another pic but she discharged me anyway and I felt I should just go. I was made to feel like a malinger or something and went home.

    As I said earlier I asked my Surgen to show me my X-Ray when I saw him at one year because the knee felt really loose, he showed me an X-Ray but it had no name on it.

    My knee feels really loose, still swollen, and sounds really annoying. I feel doughtful that a Surgeon with as many surgeries, reputation and skill would dismiss my concerns with this knee. I do not think he did the surgery as he said he would. I did research on Dr Feeley and all looked good prior to.
    As many TKR’s as he has done why is he so dismissive.

    I am bummed that my only alternative would be another surgery and year long recovery.

  4. Karen Seay December 18, 2019 at 7:07 pm

    I am so happy you guys had great success with youe TKRs. My story is not so good.
    I got TKR 2016 in Richmond, Virginia VA Hosp. In 3/2017 I started with excruciating pain and the VA would lead me on from that point until I got permission to see non-VA doctor.
    While I was being lead to beleive that my pain was in my head because all the xrays showed nothing wrong.
    My non-VA Ortho took xrays the 1st visit 11/2018 and guess what? It clearly showed my TKR was out of place.
    But the VA was sent a radiologists report the “there appears to be some lucidity in device which may lead to device failure.”
    So I filed a Malpractice tort against the Veterans Hospital. I filed in May 2017. But according to Tort law I have 2 yrs not from the time of my filing, but from the time of discovery and diagnosis. Which was 11/2018.
    Being the government, they do things on their time table. My file has been gathering dust in someones in box!
    But at least I got a replacement for my VA replacement 5/2019 and can mostly walk without pain. I almost lost the leg to infection which was preseant before surgery.
    Problem is I cannot find a lawyer who will take this into District court.
    I was forced to purchase a stronger vehicle because my car could’nt handle the weight of a scooter and lift.
    I could only get around on a scoother.
    I filed because I feel the VA put me on that scooter and should have to pay for it. I did not file for millions, only $50k.
    I am close to trying to get a loan to pay court fees so I can take it to District Court myself.
    Wish me luck.
    Happy Holidays,

  5. James tobleck December 18, 2019 at 6:25 pm

    43 years of beauracrates overruled civilian and VA doctors wanting a total knee. Zero fix just dope ,300,000 pills at least. Heart has damage now thus probably cant do the surgery. This VA problem is indicative of malfeasance ive recieved for the 4 decades. Not once has the OIG investigated the numerous wrongdoings. Coverup is their call sign. Ive met some really good doctors, dentists, xray ,mri tecs, always being overruled. Recient news paper articles by reporters at one hospital failed to see this is wide spread malfeasance. Their killing by not testing , repairing, or faulty procedures. I just hope these people I KNOW rot in hell.

  6. Courtland P. Gray December 17, 2019 at 8:20 pm

    I had bilateral TKR 19 months ago. I spent 2 nights in the hospital. No one should stay 3 or 4, and few have bilateral surgeries. This article is an overstatement.IMHO.

Comments are closed.

More Stories

  • Innovation revolutionary: Entrepreneur in Residence Dr. Priya Joshi works to develop a more equitable process in treating and identifying Veterans with kidney disease, hypertension and diabetes.

  • Houston VA has performed more than 160 head and neck free flap reconstructive surgeries since the program was developed in 2017.

  • Chronic pain interferes with women Veterans’ daily lives. Talk to your VA provider about an individualized pain management plan.