At the most fundamental level, the work of orthopaedic doctors, surgeons and specialists is largely focused around improving the quality of their patients’ lives. Improved mobility and pain relief are but two parts of a much larger picture.
Unfortunately, we all tend to overlook that big picture because we get bogged down in talking about the details of recovery or surgery prep. Those details are important, make no mistake, but it is also important to take a step back and appreciate what thousands of medical professionals around the country do every day.
Sometimes, larger practices come together to deliver better healthcare to area patients. And sometimes, surgeons perform modern miracles as part of their normal routines.
This post is intended to celebrate all of that good work. Here are six stories that each give you a glimpse at how important the work of orthopaedic specialists really is.
Success Story: How Dr. Dale Blasier Improved the Quality of Life for One Young Patient
These are the kinds of stories that need to be shared more often.
The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons posted a piece last fall about a former patient of Dr. R. Dale Blasier at Arkansas Children’s Hospital.
That patient, Rachel, had worked with Dr. Blasier since the age of 10, but at 14 she came into the hospital in terrible pain — which, it turned out, resulted from having a spine that kept growing, even after the growth plates.
Dr. Blasier inserted a pair of titanium rods and a number of screws to permanently straighten Rachel’s spine, and the effects on her life as a whole were immediate:
“After recovering from the surgery, Rachel became more social and joined several clubs at her school and within her community. She took up photography as a hobby and as a focus in her high school courses.
“’I gained so much self-esteem and felt unstoppable,’” Rachel, now a student at the University of Arkansas, told the AAOS.
Father-Daughter Team of Hand Specialists Treating Patients from Across the Country in Pennsylvania
It’s not that uncommon for a child to follow in her father’s footsteps, but it’s pretty rare to actually see two generations of hand surgeons working together in the same operating room.
But as Crozer-Keystone Health Systems pointed out last winter, that’s exactly what you will find at its clinics and surgery centers around the Philadelphia.
Dr. A. Lee Osterman, President of the Philadelphia Hand Center, is frequently joined by his daughter, Dr. Meredith Osterman, on procedures.
“I wanted to be around him,” Meredith said about joining a profession to which her father has contributed immensely. “He has a great ability to connect with people and make them feel comfortable. He is respectful of his patients and colleagues; when you get his attention you have it as long as you need it.”
Said Lee: “Meredith is a talented hand surgeon, and I want her to experience as much as I have. She is raising a family and caring for patients, but at the same time she knows how to enjoy life.”
Dr. Craig Radnay’s Research Into How Foot Issues Impact Knee Replacements
This might get technical, but Dr. Craig Radnay gave a presentation at the International Congress for Joint Reconstruction that touches on a topic that will be familiar to many of our readers.
The question: How do deformities of the foot and ankle — an ankle fusion, for example, affect how a total knee arthroplasty heals?
The writeup for Dr. Radnay’s presentation notes presents the problem in a nutshell: “Standard treatment of ankle arthritis has been ankle fusion, but that has caused many problems such as non-union, stiffness, gait changes, and persistent pain.”
“The alignment achieved in the fused ankle can negatively affect the knee and, therefore, is a concern for a later TKA. In contrast, total ankle arthroplasty can preserve ankle motion, improve gait and function, and decrease stresses on hindfoot and midfoot, thereby decreasing strain in adjacent joints.”
Elsewhere, Dr. Radnay was also quoted last year in a New York Times piece about people getting elective foot surgeries so they can fit into their designer shoes. It’s an interesting read, if you would like to check it out.
Two Top Foot & Ankle Specialists Mine Data from Their Past Surgeries for Orthopaedic Insights
The Orthopaedic Associates of Michigan Foot & Ankle Center has been one of the country’s best foot and ankle practices for years, and the team is now doubling down on the value of that experience by building a vast database so that its knowledge can be passed on to the next generation of orthopaedic specialists.
Drs. John G. Anderson and Donald R. Bohay, who have helped hundreds of patients around Western Michigan and across the country at this point, have also helped create a database from their own experiences to push forward orthopaedic education and intelligence, OAM announced last year.
Dr. Anderson says the large volume of surgeries he and Dr. Bohay perform gives them sufficient sample sizes on the results of various surgeries, including complication rates, satisfaction rates and outcomes.
“Foot and ankle specialists around the world are interested in data coming out of this research,” says Dr. Anderson. “We’re one of the few places that has a large enough volume that we can report very large clinical series and outcomes.”
Cooperation Among Practices in Kentucky Will Improve Care for Students-Athletes at 16 High Schools
Last fall, two of Northern Kentucky’s largest medical practices, St. Elizabeth Physicians and Commonwealth Orthopaedic Centers, announced they were teaming up with St. Elizabeth Healthcare to introduce a new, more comprehensive program for treating local student athletes.
This will allow the partnership’s network of doctors and staff to provide sports medicine services to 16 Northern Kentucky high schools, all of which fall within the larger Cincinnati metropolitan area.
The partnership will also allow for a much more integrated approach to injury prevention, care and treatment.
“The collaboration between primary care providers and us is one of the most exciting things from our standpoint,” orthopaedic surgeon Dr. Nicholas Gates told the Cincinnati Business Courier.
“If we involve everyone in the care of an ankle sprain, for example, beginning in the emergency department, continuing to the primary care physician’s office and the orthopedic surgeon utilizing the same protocol and treatment plan, then every patient will benefit.”
How Dr. William Ertl Changed One Triathlete’s Life
Last September, Oklahoma City’s News 9 picked up a story about a triathlete named Earl Barnes who at the time was preparing to compete in the local Redman Triathlon. Barnes, a firefighter from Kansas who lost part of his right leg in a motorcycle accident nearly 20 years ago, was set to take on the full 140.6 miles of running, swimming and cycling.
By Barnes’ own admission, it took him years to get to that point. The original prosthesis with which he was fitted never quite fit, and for 12 years he battled blisters and a variety of complications. As an athlete, Barnes felt the prosthesis — and not the injury itself — was holding him back.
In 2009, though, Barnes met Dr. William Ertl at OU Medical Center. Dr. Ertl was able to fit Barnes with a more suitable prosthesis, which allowed Barnes to go further in exploring his own potential as a competitive athlete.
“I think it’s a great testament to amputees that being an amputee shouldn’t limit your life,” Dr. Ertl told News 9. “Being an amputee isn’t a disability. You have a deficiency, but being an amputee still means you can do anything anyone else can do if you put your mind to it.”
Dr. Ertl, by the way, also competed in the Redman Triathlon.
Today, Barnes is still competing in triathlons, and he is currently raising money on behalf of physically challenged athletes in the run-up to the Shawnee Mission Triathlon on July 12, 2015, in Johnson City, Kansas.