Earl Gerber: “After years of pain, my ankle feels great!”
At 77 years old, Earl Gerber knows firsthand the toll an active lifestyle can take on one’s joints. Years of playing basketball had resulted in years of pain and instability in his ankle. “It got so bad I could barely walk, much less work on my farm,” says Earl. “That’s when I went to see Dr. Scott Karr at Ortho NorthEast.”
Until recently, patients like Earl would have required ankle fusion surgery that stabilizes the ankle, but severely limits mobility and the joint’s function. The new Total Ankle procedure offered at ONE by Dr. Karr addresses many issues that have plagued ankle replacements in the past. The new ankle system allows for more secure fixation, precise implant fit, and more natural movement. As Earl explains, “Dr. Karr said I was a good candidate for the new Total Ankle procedure, and I said, ‘Let’s do it!'”
Earl had the surgery in April 2009 and was instructed not to put any weight on it for six weeks. “I had very little pain the entire time, and there was no rehabilitation involved,” says Earl. “It just got better every day, and by August, we were in Europe and I was walking the cobblestone streets in Rome.”
Looking back, Earl said that some people discouraged him from having the surgery. “Now, I tell them my ankle is pain-free and back to 100 percent,” he says. “I can work on the farm and play golf, and I recently returned from hiking the trails in the Smokey Mountains.”
Earl credits Dr. Karr and his team at ONE for the success of his ankle replacement and is eager to share his experience with others. “If anyone has ankle pain and instability like I did, I say don’t hesitate – go see Dr. Karr right away. The total ankle replacement has given me my life back.”
Sandra Thomas: “For the first time in 15 years, I can ride a bike.”
When you stop and think about it, nearly every activity we do throughout the day depends on our ankles. That’s why an ankle injury or arthritis can be so devastating to one’s lifestyle. That was certainly the case for Sandra Thomas. Forty years ago she suffered a severe broken ankle that required surgery. For years thereafter, she continued to be plagued with pain and instability. “Fifteen years ago, Dr. Scott Karr at Ortho NorthEast determined that the best treatment at that time was to fuse my ankle,” explains Sandra.
While fusing the ankle joint provided Sandra with the basic ability to move about, it eliminated all range of motion and severely restricted her activities. As Sandra recalls, “Even around the house, I would organize my chores to make as few trips from room to room as possible.”
In early 2010, Sandra was experiencing worsening pain in her ankle. “I went back to Dr. Karr, and this time he said I was a good candidate for the new Total Ankle procedure. I was surprised, because in the past, he had said that there were too many problems with ankle replacements, and he wouldn’t recommend one. So I said, ‘I thought you told me we couldn’t do that!'”
Dr. Karr explained to Sandra that he was the first surgeon in the region to offer a new total ankle replacement procedure that overcomes difficulties experienced with previous approaches and that his patients were showing good results. “He told me that the procedure is designed to be especially beneficial for those like me, who have had ankle fusions in the past,” says Sandra.
Sandra had the total ankle surgery on April 29, 2010 and has made remarkable progress. “The pain is now mostly gone, and as the months go by, I expect my improvement to continue,” she says.
What has amazed Sandra the most is her new mobility in the ankle. “I am so delighted to be able to do things I haven’t done in years,” she says. “Things most people take for granted, like riding a bicycle, wearing different styles of shoes, and simply walking in the garden or on a sandy beach, where the surface is uneven.”
Today, Sandra moves freely around her house, without thinking about how many steps she’ll have to make from one room to another. “Now I realize just how much I had to tailor my life to my ankle,” she says. As she continues to explore different activities, one thing’s for sure – Sandra will never take for granted her new active lifestyle.