Patient Stories | Florida Orthopaedic Institute
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Patient Stories

Targeted Muscle Reinnervation (TMR): Diane Pollock

By | Patient Stories

In 2002, Diane Pollock had her left leg amputated due to severe osteomyelitis at 32 years old. Osteomyelitis is a bacterial disease in the bone that affects about two in every 10,000 people and, if untreated, can lead to the deterioration of bone tissue. Diane sought the help of a care team at Duke University.

“My treatment choices were either a straight leg fusion through the knee or an above-knee amputation,” Diane said. “So I chose the amputation.”

Diane taking her first steps at Duke University in 2002.

Although she lost her lower leg, Diane gained a second wind. She immediately got to work, knowing what would be required of her in order to make a full recovery.

“I quickly became aware of the self-discipline needed to maintain a good level of fitness in order to optimize all of the advanced prosthetic components that are available,” she said. “[I wanted] and active ‘new normal’ life.”

Diane quickly immersed herself into the world of adaptive sports. For three years, she was a sponsored athlete as she competed in competitive rowing. Diane obtained her United States Coast Guard (USCG) Captain’s license in 2011 and even became a member of the USCG Auxiliary in 2012. In the years that followed, however, Diane began to experience pain in her residual limb that made it difficult for her to wear her prosthetics.

Despite certain obstacles, Pollock attained her USCG Captain’s license and joined the USCG Auxiliary.

“By 2014, it was confirmed that I had a substantial sciatic neuroma at the distal end of my amputated femur,” she said. “My prosthetist and I continued to make changes within the prosthetic socket, with a larger and more pronounced relief pocket for the neuroma to travel into during the weight bearing phase of my gait.”

Throughout all the changes with her prosthetics, Diane was able to live as normal as she could while fighting through the pain due to her neuroma. Five years later, the pain worsened to the point where she knew she had to put an end to it once and for all.

Diane learning some balance drills at the Amputee Coalition of America’s annual conference in Boston, 2003.

“After an exhaustive six month search for the best qualified medical provider, I found Dr. Jason Nydick with Florida Orthopaedic Institute,” Diane said. “I had read the story about Dr. Nydick assisting with the reattachment of a teenager’s hand and I knew that the skill level and confidence required for such a surgery is immense. I also felt like his experience as a surgeon in a field hospital in Kandahar, Afghanistan was a good foundation.”

Dr. Jason Nydick is fellowship trained in hand and upper extremity surgery and is a member of the Orthopaedic Trauma Association (OTA). Within the last year, Dr. Nydick established the Reconstructive Limb Loss Clinic, a clinic that focuses a multi-specialty team approach on improving pain and function to patients who have upper or lower amputations.

Her new prosthetic socket! Saltwater proof with a gyroscope, accelerometer, computer processor and a hydraulic cylinder!

After a consultation with Dr. Nydick, Diane was recommended to undergo Targeted Muscle Reinnervation (TMR). TMR is a procedure developed by doctors at Northwestern University that reroutes the nerves that once controlled the amputated limb, eliminating pain and giving the remaining limb freedom to control the prosthesis.

“The evaluation was very thorough, with Dr. Nydick answering all of our questions without us feeling rushed,” Diane said. “I feel like Dr. Nydick is a very capable surgeon and a much needed care provider for amputees struggling with neuromas and the pain caused by them. Neuroma pain can make it impossible for an amputee to use his or her prosthesis no matter how advanced the components may be.”

Diane’s post-surgical outcome has been nothing short of amazing. Thanks to Dr. Nydick, her neuroma pain has completely gone away. Each day she gets closer and closer to returning to her boating, conducting boat charters and getting back to her water sports.

Pollock will never stop climbing to reach her goals. She is on a mission to advocate TMR for anybody that may be a candidate.

“Do not give up,” Diane said. “Simply giving up and accepting that ‘there is nothing you can do’ is not acceptable. I could not be happier with my decision to consult with Dr. Nydick and the treatment plan that we executed.”

Reverse Total Shoulder Arthroplasty: Richard Settle

By | Patient Stories

Richard Settle was a junior in high school when he injured his shoulder for the first time. During a wrestling match, his left shoulder tore out of its socket, rendering it dislocated. Every since then, Richard has been the unlucky host to a number of shoulder injuries with the surgeries to pair.

“In my early thirties, I had a Bankart procedure done,” Richard said. “[I had] a partial shoulder replacement roughly 15 years later. I would average a dislocation of the left shoulder at least four times yearly.”

His chronic shoulder pain eventually found him not being able to do simple tasks or even enjoy his hobbies. Without his full range of motion, Richard felt somewhat incomplete.

“I wasn’t able to lift my arm above my shoulder,” he said. “I couldn’t even hang a picture. As a guitar player, my left arm never had the strength to fully embrace the guitar neck. I always buried my elbow into my rib cage and that altered the way I play.”

After nearly 50 years, Richard was in desperate need of a doctor who could finally put an end to his shoulder pain, especially following the unexpected passing of his former surgeon.

“My only problem was that I knew I had the very best and now he is gone,” Richard said. “After all the time I had put in with this surgeon… How do I find another Dr. Oliver?”

With hope seemingly dwindling, Richard found relief in Dr. Christopher Baker, an orthopedic surgeon at Florida Orthopaedic Institute. Specializing in sports medicine, shoulder and knee repair, Dr. Baker was able to put Richard’s mind at ease with his experience and determined approach.

“[As a medical publications salesperson], I was aware of the reverse total shoulder surgery and knew I wanted this done,” Richard said. “But I really needed a crafts person behind the scalpel. Dr. Baker’s completely casual chat brought me in. He is honest with no surprises and no worries. He recommended the reversal and that’s when I knew I was home.”

Richard lived with shoulder injuries for over three decades. When he woke up from surgery, that familiar pain that traveled with him his entire life was gone. All of his aches, pains, worries and woes vanished. His surgery was a success.

With his mobility restored, Richard can now reach for the stars!

“Having experienced the intense pain of surgery many times, it was impossible to envision what Dr. Baker and his staff were telling me,” Richard said. “You do not need to rehabilitate as you did prior. You will not feel that level of pain and you will see wonderful improvement. I am not enjoying breaking my mind free of the image controlling a limited shoulder, now free to roam around as it sees fit.”

With a new lease on his shoulder mobility, Richard is forever thankful for the services provided by Dr. Baker and his staff.

“All the tools and advancements are wonderful however, in the hands of a master orthopedic surgeon such as Dr. Baker, the results are exponentially amplified.”

Carpal Tunnel Release

Carpal Tunnel Release: Thomas Brown Patient Experience

By | Patient Stories

Thomas Brown, 71, is the CEO of Living Shorelines Solutions, Inc., an environmental company that serves to restore and protect shorelines. A twice-retired, regular gym goer, with a patent on technology that stops erosion, Brown never sleeps if there is work to do. Years ago, however, he noticed that his hands started taking the sleeping shifts.

Brown holding his granddaughter.

“I tried to exercise through it, squeezing a ball, but nothing seemed to help,” Brown said. “It didn’t prevent me from doing much, but it was very irritating at night. I always had to shake my hands to relieve the numbness.”

Brown was tired of restless sleeping, having to wake up in the middle of the night just to regain the feeling in his hands. Eager to find peace, he went online and tried to find answers. That is when he found Dr. Jason Nydick, hand and upper extremity surgeon at Florida Orthopaedic Institute. After seeing his experience in hand and wrist injuries, he knew he had to schedule an appointment.

“Dr. Nydick was extremely articulate,” Brown said. “He quickly confirmed my own thoughts that it was a carpal tunnel issue. After the consultation, I decided to have surgery. He explained to me the two surgical options and what I was to expect.”

One of the options was an open carpal tunnel release surgery using a technique called WALANT (Wide Awake Local Anesthesia No Tourniquet). WALANT is common among certain hand and wrist surgeries and eliminates the need for a tourniquet and sedation. Lidocaine, used to prevent pain, and Epinephrine, used to control bleeding, allows for WALANT to be a practical option for patients, costing them less money and decreasing the time spent at the surgery center.

“I chose the open procedure,” Brown said. “I didn’t want to be sedated unless it was absolutely necessary.”

After the surgery, Brown was able to make a fast recovery, as do all patients undergoing a carpal tunnel release.

Brown on a skiing trip with his family on Whistler Mountain, in British Columbia, Canada.

“I just continued to squeeze the ball and started lifting weights again quickly after my surgery,” he said. “I didn’t need any medications post-op. Dr. Nydick and his team were great!”

After years of numbness and overall discomfort, Brown was finally able to get that full night sleep he had longed for hopefully.

“Get it done sooner rather than later,” he said. “It’s simple and really a pain free process. I only wished I’d done it sooner.”

From Pain to Passion: The Carly Norman Story

By | Patient Stories

Carswell ‘Carly‘ Norman’s life came to a screeching halt in the summer of 2017 when she tore her ACL during a lacrosse tournament playing for Wiregrass Ranch High School. After an awkward pivot, Norman suddenly found herself on the ground in excruciating pain.

“It was heartbreaking,” Norman said. “It was my first year playing and I was really starting to improve. I also worked as a girls’ lacrosse referee, so my injury prevented me from doing that as well. Attending practices and having to sit on the sidelines with my crutches was not only physically challenging, but mentally challenging as well.”

Norman went through an evaluation with her primary care doctor and it was confirmed that she had torn her ACL. The next step, she learned, was to make an appointment with a Sports Medicine specialist. That is when she found Dr. Christopher Baker at Florida Orthopaedic Institute.

Norman right after tearing her ACL as multiple players and a referee come to her aid.

“During my appointment, Dr. Baker made me feel calm in a time where I was surrounded by chaos,” Norman said. “I was extremely upset about my injury, but he listened to me and gave me options as to what type of surgery would be best for me.”

Dr. Baker, an orthopedic surgeon specializing in sports medicine, shoulder and knee repair, advised Norman that the best option for her would be to utilize parts of her hamstring to replace her damaged ACL. She consulted with her parents and it was not long before everyone was in agreement.

“I was surprisingly calm on the morning of my surgery,” Norman said. “I just felt that I was in good hands. Afterwards, I had to continue to ice my knee for several months and began physical therapy.”

Rest. Recovery. Recliner.

Norman’s rehabilitation took place at Florida Orthopaedic Institute’s Physical Therapy office in Wesley Chapel. Her recovery, led by physical therapist Richard John, DPT and Jason Davis, PTA inspired her to the point of making a decisive life choice. While many would call suffering an injury a setback, Norman, on the other hand, saw her situation as a catalyst for an aspiring career.

 “I remember on the first day of physical therapy, I was shocked that I couldn’t flex my thigh,” she said. “For most people, this would cause great alarm, but I instantly found it so interesting how my body rejected commands from my mind. Throughout the several months of physical therapy, I began to develop a passion for the career.”

“When I met Carly, it was important to our team to fully restore her knee to full function after Dr. Baker’s surgery as it was evident that returning to lacrosse was a big part of her life,” John said. “It was rewarding to know that physical therapy not only helped her goal of returning to lacrosse, but also inspired her career path.”

When Norman was fully recovered and had to bid physical therapy farewell, she found it somewhat bittersweet. The incredible care team at Florida Orthopaedic Institute had left such a lasting impression on her that, as eager as she was to get back on the field, she wished she could stay a few days longer.

Norman uses a band to stretch her leg during physical therapy at Florida Orthopaedic Institute.

“I am not a star athlete,” Norman said. “I am just a kid who got injured playing a high school sport. However, the care team treated me as though my recovery was their top priority. They never failed to put a smile on my face and I know my recovery would have not gone as smoothly as it did without their positivity.”

Norman soon stepped back on the field. A defensive player, she constantly has her head on a swivel looking to protect her goal. That does not mean, though, that she won’t sprint with the ball given the chance.

“During my first game after surgery, I scored my first goal ever,” Norman said. “I’m not usually a scoring player, but once I had the ball in my stick, I ran with all of my might to score that goal.”

Norman scoring her first goal during a 21-0 win against Lake Gibson High School.

Carly Norman has not stopped running since she regained her mobility. Now a health science major at the University of Central Florida, she keeps herself busy volunteering at local physical therapy clinics and participating in research studies as she paves her way towards graduate school.

“Learn something from your injury,” Norman said. “For me, I learned that I am extremely passionate about the medical field and I now want to pursue a career in physical therapy. It is so easy to focus on the negative aspects of being injured, but when you look at the big picture, you are exposed to so much room for personal growth, both physically and mentally.”

Norman was recently chosen to co-chair the Promotions Chair for the UCF Undergraduate Physical Therapy Association.

Florida Orthopaedic Institute

Founded in 1989, Florida Orthopaedic Institute is Florida’s largest orthopedic group and provides expertise and treatment of orthopedic-related injuries and conditions, including adult reconstruction and arthritis, chiropractic services, foot and ankle, general orthopedics, hand and wrist, interventional spine, musculoskeletal oncology, orthopedic trauma, physical medicine and rehabilitation, physical and occupational therapy, sports medicine, shoulder and elbow and spine services among others. The organization treats patients throughout its surgery centers in North Tampa and Citrus Park, two orthopaedic urgent care centers in South Tampa and Brandon, and 9 office locations in Bloomingdale, Brandon, Citrus Park, North Tampa, Northdale, Palm Harbor, South Tampa, Sun City Center and Wesley Chapel. For more information, please visit: FloridaOrtho.com and ‘like’ us on Facebook: facebook.com/Florida.Orthopaedic.Institute