Sabrina Eldridge is a 25-year-old mother who lives for adventure, as if looking after a one-year-old son isn’t enough. She loves fishing, exploring nature, archery and even has her own photography business. Suffice to say if she isn’t busy, then something is wrong. Unfortunately, on March 5th, 2019, something did go wrong.
Six-weeks after giving birth, Sabrina was hit head-on by an oncoming vehicle, with her son in the backseat. Miraculously, her son was unscathed. Sabrina, however, got the full effect of the collision, breaking her right tibia (shinbone), right fibula (lower leg bone), right patella (kneecap), right ulna (little finger-side arm bone), right radius (thumb-side arm bone), left talus (lower part of the ankle joint) and left patella.
The next thing she remembers is waking up in the recovery room at Tampa General Hospital to the welcoming presence of Dr. Hassan Mir, trauma surgeon at Florida Orthopaedic Institute. Her injuries required two separate days of surgery.
“I was lucky enough that Dr. Mir was on shift for the days of my surgeries and that he specializes in trauma,” she said. “[After my surgeries], I couldn’t stand. I couldn’t hold my 6-week-old son like normal. I couldn’t do much of anything for a long time.”
Dr. Hassan Mir is the Director of Orthopaedic Trauma Research at Florida Orthopaedic Institute and focuses on the care of polytraumatized patients, pelvic and acetabular fractures and complex periarticular fractures.
“He enjoys his work and is fantastic with communication, explaining everything no matter the question,” Eldridge said of her doctor. “He is always upbeat at every appointment from the first time I met him.”
Sabrina was bedridden at TGH for two weeks as she slowly learned how to move again. She had to learn how to get comfortable, working with countless therapists on how to go about her daily life. Her muscles were tight, she couldn’t bend her knees without excruciating pain and her right hand could hardly function after the surgery required on her forearm.
“If it weren’t for my therapists at Florida Orthopaedic Institute pushing me and switching up my routine with a variety of exercises, I might not be doing as good as I am,” she said. “I learned a lot and after finishing therapy in early October 2019. I still continue my exercises almost regularly.”
Among all the activities that Sabrina enjoyed doing most before her accident, there was only one thing that she was looking forward to doing again.
“I just wanted to hold my son and walk around carrying him,” she said. “I wanted to take care of him myself without assistance like I did since he was born.”
After almost a year of rehabilitation, Sabrina was released from the care of Dr. Mir. The first thing she did was pick up her son.
Zach Board tore his left anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in May while playing soccer for Jesuit High School. As a senior who had been on the Varsity team since he was a freshman, being out of commission was something that Zach, and his father, Michael, weren’t all too prepared for.
“With the injury, he would miss his entire Senior season,” Zach’s father said. “He and I both cried when we left Dr. Gasser’s office that day in May.”
Dr. Seth Gasser is an orthopedic sports medicine surgeon and serves as the team physician for multiple Florida schools including the University of Tampa, Plant High School and Berkeley Preparatory School. He has also served for professional teams in the Tampa area including the Tampa Bay Lightning and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
An ACL sprain or tear is one of the most common knee injuries. The more demanding a sport is, the higher the chance of an ACL tear. These injuries are commonly seen in sports like football, basketball and soccer. Young athletes involved in agility sports usually need surgery to safely return to them, as was the case with Zach.
“Dr. Gasser performed the ACL surgery on June 4,” Michael said. “Zach immediately began rehab and worked really hard to try to make it back in time for Playoffs. Although he progressed very rapidly, we began to feel like he would not be able to play at all, as a ‘return to play‘ is very heavily dependent on time.”
‘Return to play’ is the term used for the permission granted by the doctor to return an athlete back to his or her sport following an injury. Recovery time varies from athlete to athlete, with some needing extra time to recover and rehabilitate. As he went in to see Dr. Gasser’s nurse practitioner, Elio Hernandez, Zach found that he was progressing faster than initially expected.
“We saw Elio at the beginning of December, and he said Zach should continue and step up his workouts, strengthening his Quads and Hamstrings to protect the ACL,” the father said.
Through the rehabilitation process, tests were performed to measure Zach’s muscle strength and physical ability. With a scheduled test coinciding with the upcoming playoffs, Zach thought he was making great progress and wanted to miss as few games as possible as Jesuit hadn’t won States since 2001.
“Playoffs started at the beginning of February and the team was having a very good season, set to make a State Championship run,” Michael said. “Zach asked me if he could do the test early, so I scheduled it for January 31st. [When we followed up with Elio], to our amazement, he gave Zach his return to play clearance. This was eight months after surgery. Obviously, I was very concerned, but Zach said he felt like he was stronger than ever and did not want to miss out on a potential Championship run.”
When he stepped back onto the field, Zach was right at home once again. He’d been preparing for this moment since the injury happened. All the time spent rehabilitating his knee and strengthening the surrounding muscles were suddenly worth every second.
“Zach began training with the team and played limited minutes in the District and Regional Playoffs, making solid contributions to the wins,” he said. “His teammates were thrilled to have him back for the playoffs.”
With Zach back in action, Jesuit High School secured 5 wins to get into the State Championships. And the rest, as Michael says, is history.
“Zach played most of the game and Jesuit won the game 5-4 and the State 5A Championship,” he said. “Zach scored three goals including the game winning goal! It was a storybook ending for him after the long and difficult season. And the irony, he scored the winning goal on a blast from his left leg; his non-dominant, surgically repaired left leg.”
Terri Hall is the CEO of Doubletake Marketing & PR by Design, a full-service marketing, advertising and public relations firm. When she isn’t helping her clients establish their brands, she divides her time between working with non-profit organizations and enjoying her hobbies like making jewelry, golfing and yoga.
More than 10 years ago, Terri began feeling painful ‘nodes’ in the palm of her hand.
It kept me from enjoying my hobbies where I use my hands – which is just about everything I do. Anything from computer work, intricate jewelry making, yoga (downward dogs were miserable and put a strain on my wrists) and even wearing gloves. These were all challenges with my bent fingers.
Terri was diagnosed with Dupuytren’s Contracture. Known formally as palmar fibromatosis, Dupuytren’s affects the hand, causing the fingers to contract and “freeze up” over a span of several years. After some unsuccessful treatments with her family doctor, she started doing her own research. That’s when she found Dr. Alfred V. Hess at Florida Orthopaedic Institute. Dr. Hess is an orthopedic surgeon specializing in hand and upper extremity disorders.
I just felt that he had extensive knowledge about hands and after researching him online, I thought my case was pretty mundane compared to some of the incredibly technical surgeries he’s performed. He never made me feel that my case was not important. We worked together to come up with a way to take a disease with no cure and manage it in the best way possible.
While there are no known cures for Dupuytren’s, both non-surgical and surgical approaches are examined and discussed with the patient. More often than not, steroid injections and collagenase injections (like Xiaflex) prove to slow the progression of the disease. However, surgery is often sought when Dupuytren’s prevents one from completing daily tasks.
When my disease finally did reach the point where surgery was my best option, I was well informed by Dr. Hess and his physician assistant, Tony, about the procedure and what to expect.
Terri underwent outpatient hand surgery. She was home recovering the very same day. Thanks to the instructions of her care team, Terri was on her way towards fast healing!
The best thing to do is listen and follow the post-op instructions. Get yourself moving and healing the best way possible. If they tell you to do exercises, do them. If you need to wear a splint to keep your fingers ‘trained’ to be straight – do it. Your outcome is only as good as your follow through.
After conducting her own research led her down the path towards recovery, Terri advises everyone to do the same. Find someone who knows about your condition and get yourself a doctor that specializes in it.
I would research who specifically knows your condition and get a good doctor that specializes in what you have. I feel so fortunate to get Dr. Hess with a team that knows what they’re doing and feel confident recommending them to anyone that would have a condition like mine or any hand issues that require a true professional.
Ron Rook is a retired Colonel with the United States Marine Corps. As a child, he was extremely active, playing sports of all kinds and usually earning first place trophies in the process. Being physically fit and a well-trained athlete, he had the advantage when he first joined the Corps. Soon thereafter, Colonel Ron ran into a problem, although he’ll be the first to tell you that it was the best possible problem to have.
“I was very active all my life. I got married four years after I joined the Marine Corps and six months into it, for the first time in my life, I had all the food I could ever want. I gained ‘love weight’.”
Forty-one years ago, Colonel Ron made a decision that would forever change his life.
“During the Christmas holiday of 1968, I started running.”
And he never stopped.
“Ten years later, I ran my first marathon.”
By 2013, at 67 years old, Colonel Ron had finished 53 marathons including one 40-mile marathon on his 40th birthday and one 50-mile marathon. He had clearly developed a deep appreciation and love of long-distance running and the preparation involved leading up to running marathons. It was around this time that Colonel Ron noticed something looming.
“I started developing pain in my left knee and it affected my work performance as well as my home life. [Eventually], I wasn’t able to walk from one building to the next. I also wasn’t able to ride my Harley because it was 900 pounds and I’d have to keep it up with my leg.”
In February of 2014, Colonel Ron had his left knee replaced and after his intensive rehab, he was ready to get back to running.
“I asked Dr. Miranda if I could run. He said yes, but that I should mix it up with jogging and speed walking. He gave sage advice.”
Colonel Ron used that advice and, on his newly replaced knee, was able to complete four more marathons by 2018, bringing his lifetime total to 57 completed marathons. Soon needing his other knee replaced, Colonel Ron has no doubts or concerns as long as he is in the care of Dr. Miranda.
Dr. Miranda was very professional, sensitive to my pain and did such an outstanding job on my other knee that I have been able to complete four marathons on it.
Request Dr. Michael Miranda by name and follow all his medical guidance. Make sure you do all the physical therapy that they advise you to do. You have to be disciplined, dedicated and driven to do all the required PT to fully recover and be normal again without any stiffness or pain. I was very fortunate to have Dr. Miranda.”
On October 25th, 2019, Colonel Ron was inducted into the Marine Corps Marathon Hall of Fame in Washington, D.C.. Established in 1976, the Marathon has hosted millions of runners since its inception. Colonel Ron was given the award for finishing 27 of 44 Marine Corps Marathons.
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.”
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.
“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.
“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.
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.
“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.”
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.
“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.”
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.
“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.
“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.”
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.
“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
“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.”
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.
“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.”
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.