Avera Medical Minute: State-of-the-art medical devices available in small, rural communities

Published: Dec. 13, 2021 at 10:45 PM CST
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HULL, IA (Dakota News Now) - Undergoing a joint replacement procedure has historically been a major surgery.

Now with the assistance of Mako robots, surgeons can accomplish the task more efficiently with less healing time for patients.

The state-of-the-art technology is being made available across the Avera footprint.

Brian Van Der Vliet lives in Hull, Iowa. And he’s been living with pain.

“I’ve been walking around for years with a lot of knee pain. And in 2020 it got to a point where enough was enough for me,” said Van Der Vliet.

That’s when he decided to seek help, and connected with Dr. Bryce Braaksma, an orthopedic surgeon with Avera.

Dr. Braaksma is who Brian credits for taking away his pain and giving him more pain-free mobility.

Both of Van Der Vliet’s knee replacement surgeries were done with the assistance of a Mako robot.

“Mako Robotics is a revolutionary tool and is the most advanced technology available in orthopedics. It allows us to do the surgery more minimally invasive, while also allowing increased precision, accuracy, efficiency and decreasing the human error involved in surgery,” said Dr. Braaksma.

The best part for Brian Van Der Vliet was that he didn’t have to travel far for his first procedure.

“Was able to do the surgery right in Sioux Center, a local hospital, so that was fantastic to go 10 miles from home, go do a surgery,” said Van Der Vliet.

Having the technology close to home for people in rural areas is something Dr. Braaksma says can make the world of difference for patients, without having to sacrifice quality-of-care.

“Especially in these small communities, where we have this technology for them, they feel like they’re not missing out on something when the surgery can be done close to home versus at a big Tertiary care center,” he said. “They have this access to this equipment in their community where they often want to do their surgery because they’re close to home with their friends and family so they have the care needed around the time of surgery.”

Not only was his first surgery done close to home, Van Der Vliet’s physical therapy afterwards was also conveniently located.

“We had three fantastic therapists right in this facility in Hull,” said Van Der Vliet.

Physical therapy is going well and Van Der Vliet is back to feeling like he hasn’t felt in years.

“Now, I have a lot of confidence in that knee I had struggled with for years thinking, ‘Oh, that’s my bad knee, I can’t do anything with it.’ Now all the sudden it’s my strong knee,” he said.

He says having his procedures done with the Mako device shortened his recovery time with very minimal pain.

It’s something he recommends to anyone considering a joint replacement.

“Talk to your surgeon, ask for a robotic procedure if they can do it that way, and just remember, life gets better,” said Van Der Vliet.

For more information on joint replacement surgery and the Mako robotic technology, head over to

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