Oh, Snap! Danbury Group Helps Patient Gain Mobility With Ankle Replacement
BETHEL, CT – Debbie Mullady snapped and dislocated her ankle in a fall heading down steps at her Bethel home in December 2001. Fourteen years of pain, limited mobility and frustration ensued until she underwent ankle replacement surgery at the hands of Dr. Randolph Sealey of Danbury Orthopedics.
Debbi Mullady of Bethel endured 14 years of pain after breaking her ankle in a fall at her home. She finally got relief with ankle replacement performed by Danbury Orthopedics and Dr. Randolph Sealey.
Mullady, who had the surgery in December 2015, almost 14 years to the day after the fall, is now back to full health. Her pain is gone, she has regained her mobility and even returned to the diving board with a bang. “I did a backflip last summer to celebrate,’’ said Mullady, a lifelong swimmer and diver. “I haven’t been able to do that in quite a few years.”
Mullady broke her ankle in a fall that could have been part of a Three Stooges segment. She headed down frost-covered stairs with arms full of books as she headed for work as a bookkeeper for a construction company. She slipped on the frost and tumbled down the stairs of her home’s back deck. Her left ankle caught between a step as she fell. Her son saw the accident, rushed to help and he, too, tumbled. Her husband also rushed out to help his wife and son. “I never felt it,’’ Mullady said. “My body went into shock. I could’ve won $10,000 on 'America’s Funniest Videos.' It sure was a sight to see.”
But the following 14 years were no laughing matter. Doctors outfitted her ankle with nine screws and two plates, but in June 2002 her body started to reject them. She experienced significant pain, could no longer go for walks, shop at the mall or wear high heels.
With the pain unbearable, Mullady visited Dr. Sealey in 2013. He recommended ankle replacement. And Mullady rejected it.
“The ankle is a big deal,’’ Mullady said. “It supports your entire body. I was leery. I said I’ll come back to you when I can’t walk.”
“Patients are always a little hesitant,’’ Sealey said. “There is a lot more information available now. Back then, even though it wasn’t that long ago, there wasn’t as much information available. She had to do some research. It’s a big procedure especially when someone is in pain and had surgery before, there will always be some reservations.”
Mullady endured two more years of pain before returning to Sealey. “I went to get out of bed and could not put any pressure on my left ankle,’’ Mullady said. “I was in tears. I told my husband you have to take me to the doctor now. I had a wedding that weekend, and they gave me a cortisone shot but it did nothing. I made the appointment right then and there.”
“I was happy she finally decided to have it,’’ Sealey said. “I thought she was a good candidate and that she’d do well. Ankle replacement surgery is one of my favorite procedures. It’s difficult, very challenging, but very rewarding. It’s just great to see the function people are able to attain and the change in their quality of life after the surgery.”
X-rays of Debbie Mullady's ankle before and one year after replacement surgery by Dr. Randolph Sealey of Danbury Orthopedics.
Sealey said ankle replacement surgery has evolved in the past 40 years. It started in the 1970s, but improvement has been dramatic in the past few years. “Hip and knee replacement are more common because arthritis is more common in those areas,’’ Sealey said. “Ankle replacement is similar to those. The materials are the same. The technology just took more time. It presents some unique challenges.”
Sealey said the name itself scares prospective patients. The procedure, however, involves the removal of about 11 millimeters of damaged bone. Sealey and his team use metal and plastic parts to create a new surface for bearing weight.
“A better name for it is a resurfacing procedure,’’ Sealey said. “It’s like retreading a tire that has lost its tread. The remaining parts of your ankle including tendons, ligaments, and bone are left behind after replacement surgery. The average lifetime of ankle replacement is 8-10 years. The mechanical parts will wear out over time depending on a patient's activity levels. If the parts wear out many times it is possible to do a revision surgery to preserve the replacement. When I explain that to patients, you can almost see their worry and concern disappear.”
Mullady recovered quickly. Within 12 weeks, she had regained mostly normal function. The hardest part, she said, was staying confined to a rehabilitation center with no cellphone service. “I was going crazy,’’ Mullady said. “I felt like I was an animal locked in a cage.”
She returned home and got around with a scooter, walker and eventually, a cane. She pushed herself, but not too aggressively. “By June, I was a new person,’’ said Mullady, who completed her backflip about a month later.
Mullady, who also endured a bout with kidney cancer, said she wishes she had consented earlier to the procedure.
“If I had known what it was going to be like, I would’ve done it years ago,’’ Mullady said. “I told Dr. Sealey I should have listed to you and not to me. I suffered for another three years which I didn’t have to do.”
Article by Tom Renner and Karen Tensa of Danbury Daily Voice.
We are delighted to share our new look with you!
In March, we will begin the move to our new, state-of-the-art facility at 2 Riverview Drive in the Berkshire Corporate Park in downtown Danbury. This will be the new home of Danbury Orthopedics and our parent practice, OrthoConnecticut. The facility will be a Musculoskeletal Center of Excellence, offering our patients the finest diagnostic, surgical and non-surgical treatment available in the region.
Patient Experience is key focus at Western Connecticut Orthopedic Surgical Center
Recent patients point to an attentive staff and immediate return to home as major advantages
DANBURY, CT – For decades, word of mouth advice has been important in the health care field, where people advise family and friends on their personal experiences, both good and bad, about practitioners, procedures, and results. That communication has been a key influence for many years on how people choose their care. So when the Western Connecticut Orthopedic Surgical Center’s (WCOSC) Total Joint patients stepped forward to talk about WCOSC, their voices were especially audible and noteworthy.
Opened in September of 2014, WCOSC is the first outpatient center of its kind in the region, offering patients a state-of-the-art facility, a highly trained and qualified staff, access to top surgeons, and, most importantly, the ability to go home to recover right after total joint surgery. “Our surgical center is specifically designed to meet the needs of patients who want to recuperate in their own homes,” says administrator Diane Heelan.
Today’s new healthcare model demands shorter hospital stays and cost-conscious care. For patients who meet the qualifications to have total joint surgery on an outpatient basis, WCOSC is an important new offering in the Danbury area. The following patients were all part of the total joint replacement program at WCOSC, one of the only centers in our area providing this type of care.
Phil Ruckel had a total hip replacement at WCOSC in January and was amazed at the personal approach of the entire team at the center. “I was most impressed that all of my questions were answered prior to surgery,” says Mr. Ruckel, a Brookfield resident. “The nurses, staff and my surgeon, total joint specialist Dr. John Dunleavy, motivated me with positive, encouraging attitude and an attentive style that built my own confidence which I believe really contributed to my quicker than expected progress.”
“WCOSC’s staff set up my home care through the Ridgefield Visiting Nurse Association (RVNA) which has also been a godsend,” he continues. “Their Occupational Therapist came to the house the week before my surgery and evaluated what changes I would need to make in the house to make my recuperation easier. Small daily things, like getting in and out of the bathtub, or getting my socks on or off, were planned out and practiced. Then, the visiting nurse arrived at my home about an hour after I did following my surgery. That was such a comfort. From that moment, I was on my way.”
Danbury resident, Bill Dempsey, a total shoulder replacement patient of Dr. Philip Mulieri’s, has recovered from more medical emergencies than he would like to mention. “In 2001, I fell from a tree and broke 20 bones. I am more knowledgeable than most people about healing from orthopedic trauma,” continued Mr. Dempsey. “I absolutely loved going home after this replacement surgery at WCOSC. The center’s staff makes you feel at home from the minute they are introduced and begin to plan out your surgery.”
However, one of the most significant comments Mr. Dempsey shared was about post-surgical medication. “After my fall from the tree, I went through an enormous amount of surgery, spent many nights in the hospital, and was on a crazy amount of pain medication. Having my recent shoulder replacement done on an outpatient basis allowed me to have very minimal medication, and I felt so much better almost immediately after my surgery. I am a huge fan of the practice, these doctors, and now of the surgical center. I won’t go anywhere else,” raves Mr. Dempsey.
Gary Furtak, of New Fairfield, was the very first total joint surgical patient at the center. As a landscaper, Mr. Furtak depends on his musculoskeletal system to handle a wide range of tasks, counting on his muscle strength to use the larger equipment needed for his job. He refers to his full knee replacement, performed by Dr. Robert Deveney, as one of his smoothest medical experiences ever . “If I had to rate my experience at WCOSC, out of 5 I would give it a 5+,” says Mr. Furtak. “I am overwhelmed with the attention I received at WCOSC. The nurses, staff and Dr. Deveney’s office not only prepared me extremely well prior to surgery, they have responded promptly to any question I have had since.”
Mr. Furtak’s wife, Marilyn, has been a nurse for over 31 years and was equally impressed with the attention, information and follow up care. She explains, “Gary was cleared to return to work in 28 days, and I attribute his speedy recovery not only to Dr. Deveney’s skill level, but to the support system provided by the nursing staff, immediate post-surgical home visits by the RVNA, follow up phone calls and subsequent therapy with David Jewell of Danbury Orthopedics Physical Therapy.” Mr. Furtak, who is becoming emotional about his experience, says with a tear in his eye, “I wouldn’t have changed anything.”
Police officer Robin Montgomery underwent a right total shoulder with Dr. Ross Henshaw in February in order to continue his active lifestyle. “I didn’t hesitate as I have utmost confidence in Dr. Henshaw, and was delighted to learn that I could do the surgery on an outpatient basis at the new state-of-the-art surgical center,” says Mr. Montgomery. He adds, “At every turn, the staff has responded to what I needed. I can’t recommend them enough.”
About Western Connecticut Orthopedic Surgical Center:
Western Connecticut Orthopedic Surgical Center (WCOSC) opened in 2014 to offer the highest quality, state-of-the-art orthopedic surgery on an ambulatory basis to the community. The outpatient facility offers the most advanced technology to assist orthopedic surgeons with routine and complex procedures. The surgical team includes physicians from Danbury Orthopedics, New Milford Orthopedics and Connecticut Neck & Back Specialists. For more information about the center and the surgical team, please visit www.wcosc.org or call 203.791.9557.
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J. Albert Diaz, M.D. Joins The Sports Medicine Center at Danbury Orthopedics
Diaz Brings Over 18 Years of Experience as Sports Medicine Specialist
DANBURY, CT – Danbury Orthopedics is pleased to announce that J. Albert Diaz, M.D., will join the practice as of June 1st. A specialist in the field of sports medicine, minimally invasive arthroscopic shoulder and knee surgery, Dr. Diaz completed his orthopedic residency training at The Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City, and his sports medicine fellowship at the Minneapolis Sports Medicine Center where he served as Assistant Team Physician to the Minnesota Vikings and Timberwolves. He attended Dartmouth College and the Tulane University School of Medicine, and currently serves as Team Physician for Joel Barlow High School in Redding.
“We are thrilled to have Dr. Diaz join our sports medicine team to work alongside Drs. Ciminiello, Henshaw and myself,” says Danbury Orthopedics’ President, Dr. Michael Brand. “Our patients will certainly benefit from his arthroscopic surgical expertise, and the eighteen years of experience he brings in this field.”
Dr. Diaz is board certified by the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery and is a member of the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, and the Arthroscopy Association of North America. He maintains surgical privileges at Danbury Hospital, Danbury Surgical Center and Western Connecticut Orthopedic Surgical Center.
“I am delighted to bring my skills to the highly trained team at Danbury Orthopedics, and continue to care for patients in the greater Danbury area,” says Dr. Diaz. “This organization has made significant advancements to meet the needs of the modern orthopedic patient and I am excited to be a part of it,” adds Dr. Diaz. Danbury Orthopedics offers the full suite of orthopedic services, including the highest quality diagnostics, non-operative and surgical treatment solutions, integrated care by its physical therapy team, its own orthopedic-only outpatient surgical center, and OrthoCare Express, a walk-in orthopedic specific urgent care service, 7 days a week.