Arts and Entertainment

New hip — new life

Bill and Rita Ament showing off their “Zumba” moves in a class at Dance Workshop II. - Journal photo/ Cali Bagby
Bill and Rita Ament showing off their “Zumba” moves in a class at Dance Workshop II.
— image credit: Journal photo/ Cali Bagby

He leaped, jumped, twisted and salsa danced to Latin tunes as the videographer roamed the room looking for the best angles.

“I felt like a movie star,” Bill Ament said.

It wasn’t long ago that Ament was limping and walking with a cane. For three years, he suffered from pain in his right hip, and thought his days of teaching dance were over. He finally surrendered to a full hip replacement in 2009. Ament’s pain was from a condition known as hip impingement — the ball of his hip was not fitting properly into the socket, a common problem for physically active males.

“There was no cartilage left, just bone on bone,” said Ament about his hip before surgery. “Now it [the replacement product] looks like a white microphone - now I really have the music in me.” This month, Ament, 64, was selected to appear in an educational video produced by Zimmer, the joint replacement company that provided him with his new hip.

The video features 13 joint replacement patients, three of whom received hip replacements, and will be used as an inspirational tool for the Zimmer internal intranet and team meetings. Garry Clark, Zimmer’s director of public relations, said Ament was chosen for his enthusiasm, determination, and passion for dance.

Hip history

The first hip replacement surgery was performed in 1960, and since then improvements in joint replacement surgical techniques and technology have increased its effectiveness, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Ament is one of the 193,000 patients receiving hip replacements every year in the U.S. Most people who undergo hip replacement surgery experience a dramatic reduction of hip pain and a significant improvement in their ability to perform the common activities of daily life. However, hip replacement surgery will not enable more activity than patients participated in before their initial hip problem developed, states AAOS on their website.

For Ament, this was not a problem considering he started dancing at age six — long before the pain began. Following surgery, patients are often advised to avoid certain activities, including jogging and high-impact sports, for the rest of their life — luckily for Ament - Zumba, a dance-fitness classes, was not on the list.

“I told the company that the best way to see how I dance and move with my new hip would be to film my latin-inspired, hip-shaking, full-of-life Zumba class,” Ament said. Ament and his wife, Rita, teach various dance programs on the island including Zumba.

“I felt so empowered by my Zumba people,” Ament said. “Everyone was so excited when they got to class to find out the film event was happening. I must have levitated that night because there was so much joy in the room.”

The healing process

Lynda Guernsey, in attendance that night at Dance Workshop II, said the room was crowded. She has been dancing with him for the last 18 years, and said it was “hard to watch” as Ament’s hip deteriorated and his moves became more limited.

She attributes Ament’s healing to the fact he didn’t give up — he kept exercising even when it was difficult. “You’d never know he had a hip replacement,” she said. “It’s a miracle and an inspiration for anyone trying to overcome physical or health problems.”

Ament said the love and support of his wife quickened the recovery process. The couple walked everyday, and Ament did plenty of yoga, stretching, Zumba, positive meditation and visualization.

After healing from his hip replacement, Ament started counseling people thinking about or preparing for the same procedure. He offers visualization techniques before surgery, and post-operation counseling on healing. At the end of the class, Ament added a hip move to his dance steps, to show just how far he’s come in the last couple of years.

His students applauded and cheered him on as the camera kept rolling. “It was such a memorable moment for me and for everyone,” said Ament. “It was a dream come true.”

For info about Bill and Rita’s dance class schedule, call 378-9628.

For more info on the AAOS visit www.aaos.org.

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