Bonesmart Spotlight: Craig Raucher 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 here (https://bonesmart.org/joints/december-spotlight-craucher/) 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 every 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. 

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

Website: https://www.sibl.us/

Questions/Comments

If you have questions or comments you’d like to make regarding Raucher’s Spotlight story and his recovery, please click on this link and post in his recovery thread on the BoneSmart forum.
https://bonesmart.org/forum/threads/both-knees-replaced-and-back-to-basketball.52040/

BoneSmart Spotlight: Craig Raucher

“I am a living, breathing and playing testimonial to the idea that if you find the right surgeons, the right hospitals Craig Raucherand add a very high level of determination, you can play basketball competitively after your knees are replaced.”

…..CraigRaucher

1986 – Craig Raucher,
Captain of DHL Airways
Airport League – Champions

The court is no place for a guy with bad knees!

For Craig Raucher (username raucher on the BoneSmart forum), playing competitive basketball was always a part of life.  But eight years ago at the age of 59, he was definitely in the typical age window for having his knees replaced, especially given his long and rich history with the sport.  Now, at the age of 67 and with two knee replacements behind him, he’s back playing full-court basketball three times weekly not only with his contemporaries but also with friends who are decades younger.

 

While spending more than 30 successful years in the transportation industry, Craig also pursued his life’s passion – basketball.  He’s played organized and college basketball for more than 50 years and is the founder and Commissioner of the Staten Island Basketball League.  This well-known organization at Public School 8 in Great Kills, Staten Island began in 1980.  It’s the oldest and longest running group at the same location in the history of the New York City school system. Ages of the players range from 40 to 70 and the league is run in a most unique way. The participants are seasoned hoopsters who played in high school or college or in leagues for years. During each three-hour session on Monday and Wednesday nights and Saturday mornings, most of the guys play six full-court games. It is a great workout and a highly competitive experience.

 

During his lifetime, Craig had many knee surgeries due to injuries from basketball and running.  Eventually, he got to the point where he needed both knees replaced as the pain was unbearable.  As Craig puts it, “My quality of life was not good.  As an aging athlete, basketball and working out defined my nature and were my shield against growing old.  And now I was basically sidelined from both!”

 

Craig Raucher Staten Island

 

The quest begins for a solution

In his search for help with his knee pain, Craig sought out surgeons in the New York City area. During those initial consultations, he was told straight out that he would never play competitive full-court basketball again.  When he asked why not, the doctors replied they never had a patient with one – let alone two – total knee replacements come back and play full-contact, full-court basketball at the intensity Craig was used to.   So even before he started on his knee journey, Craig was told he could not do something that he loved. He silently vowed to write a completely different ending for his recovery“I listened to what they had to say, but I was determined to get back to playing my sport at a high level regardless of what I was told.” This determination led Craig on a recovery journey that, although not appropriate for everyone, worked very well to get him back in the game.  His goal was to defy the odds.

 

Craig’s approach to knee replacement surgery and recovery involved extensive research and some hard work physically to get himself in shape for what was to come. Prior to both surgeries, he spent months in the gym, worked with a therapist and exercised at home to strengthen his leg muscles.  He worked primarily on the four quadriceps muscles in the thigh using a treadmill, bands, and weight machines – all under the guidance of his physical therapist.

 

While he was investigating surgeons, implants and hospitalsCraig discovered BoneSmart.  He began to read the extensive information available on the forum and website as well as the threads detailing others’ experiences with knee replacement surgery.  “For people looking at this type of major surgery with its rehab that can be intensively painful, as well as mentally and emotionally challenging, it’s difficult and depressing enough. But add in the negative assessment of my future outlined by the surgeons I talked to and the road ahead became frightening. I was thankful to have found BoneSmart and I’ve been reading it since 2010. It is unique and has great content!”

Craig Raucher Knee Injury

Structured approach to pre- and post-surgery conditioning

Craig’s biggest question was why many people never fully regain their range of motion after knee replacements.  He noted that even the specialists didn’t seem too concerned with pre-conditioning and getting your body ready for the challenges ahead in recovery.   He became a firm believer in the idea of strengthening muscles he would depend on in recovery.  Craig reasoned that lacking muscle tone could make recovery more difficult and a longer process.  So, even though there are no guarantees with recovery, he decided to give himself all the opportunities for the success he possibly could.  And for Craig, this was a winning formula!“I worked hard in the gym months before the first TKR and hard months before the second TKR.  I worked on a variety of machines in the gym to strengthen all my leg muscles, especially the 4 quads.”

 

Craig’s total knee replacements were done by different surgeons about two years apart.  The first by Dr. Scott Marwin (NYU Langone OrthopedicCenter) was at 59 years old and the second by Dr. David Mayman (Hospital for Special Surgery) at the age of 62.  Both surgeries went well, but he had an especially good experience with post-surgery pain management at the Hospital for Special Surgery.  One day in the hospital, then he was released and on his way to recovery!

 

Once Craig was home, he maintained a strict recovery regimen in addition to his therapy:

  • Frequent icing with an ice machine during the daytime to minimize swelling
  • Use of a combination of prescription medications and over-the-counter pain and inflammation medications for several months to control pain and swelling
  • Daily sessions with a Continuous Passive Motion  (CPM) machine to keep his knee moving and gradually increase his flexion

 

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 kettlebells 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.

Happy Hoop Day!Craig Raucher Happy and Fit

 

Six months after the second knee replacement, the big moment came.  Craig was ready to start shooting some hoops.  About 9 months after the surgery he resumed playing full court basketball three times a week.  He had successfully worked his way up to the grueling 3-hour sessions with men 25 years younger.  And much to his joy, he and his knees were holding their own in the games!

In the years since this recovery milestone, Craig has continued to play full-court competitive basketball on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays plus coaching and managing the Staten Island Basketball League.  This tallies up to more than 1500 games and active court time well in excess of 18,000 minutes.“Add to this the hundreds of hours on the treadmill and the time I spent on the leg weight machines putting pressure on my knees … and I feel powerful!  Several of my basketball friends have approached HSS to seek consultations and operations for legs and hips as I have become a walking, talking, playing an advertisement for this type of surgery. I always tell them the same thing: I was very fortunate to have found an excellent orthopedic surgeon in Dr.Mayman and that I was blessed to have found a great hospital. How many guys my age do you know that can play aggressively and at a high level even without having knee replacements?”

 

Craig Raucher Sucessful Story

A positive outlook is critical for success

 

His aggressive approach to rehabilitation and positive mental attitude combined with his doctor’s surgical skills helped Craig achieve his goal of returning to basketball and the life he loves. He may be unusual in his physical, mental and emotional intensity during rehabilitation from his knee replacements, but playing basketball serves as Craig’s means for maintaining mobility and health as he ages.

We’ll let Craig’s own words finish out his remarkable story:

 

“These successes with my knee replacements go hand in hand with the way I have lived my life – maintain a positive outlook, be aggressive in business and in sports, and respectfully question people who claim to be experts (like surgeons). The human spirit and the will to succeed trumps all.  Knee replacement surgery is one of the scariest operations to face, but your fear can be mediated in many ways with information that you receive from great resources like BoneSmart. Ask questions and get involved with your treatment.  Find out the “why” of everything!”

 

Craig Raucher Knee fixed
2015 – Welcoming the sunrise with Mom in Florida

My one regret is that I only have 2 knees to replace! (Just kidding!)

If you’d like 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

Website: https://www.sibl.us/

 

 

Dave & Busters is now a sponsor of the Staten Island Basketball League – September 2018

We have been approached by the nationally recognized Dave & Busters Corporation as a sponsor for the Staten Island Basketball

League as they were opening their first location at the newly renovated Staten Island Mall. That sponsorship became effective on September 2018. The combination of a highly competitive basketball group in tandem with a sports and game oriented highly competitive atmosphere as Dave & Busters provides a hand in glove fit.

 

Dave & Busters is an American restaurant and entertainment business with headquarters in Dallas, Texas.

 

Each Dave & Busters location offers a full service restaurant and a video arcade and as of July 2018 there are 117 locations in the United States and Canada. The newest location  here on Staten Island opened its doors on July 1, 2018 and has been jam packed since day 1.

 

Dave & Busters is a publicly traded multimillion dollar corporation which was founded in 1982.

 

The Staten Island Basketball League as of this September begins our 39th straight year of existence at the same Public School Number 8.

 

PS 8 is one of the oldest schools in New York City as it enters its 80 th year in September 2018.

 

Since the beginning of the SIBL over 400 players from all walks of life, nationalities, religions, ages and backgrounds have walked through the gym doors. All brought together for the love of playing competitive basketball.

In the news 4/2017

Full article on SILive.com

Craig Raucher, founder of the Staten Island Basketball League, is a 65-year-old who loves playing hoops. (Staten Island Advance/Hilton …

In the news June 2016

Read about us in backinthegame.hss.edu click here

In the news October 2015

Read about us in silive.com click here

In the news January 2014

Read about us in silive.com click here

In the news July 2010

Read about us in silive.com click here