It’s fall 2017, and children around the country recently returned to school after summer recess. The beginning of the school year is vastly different than last year for Jackson kindergarten teacher Colleen Anderson. The year before, mere days before the first day of school, Colleen was arranging her classroom when she injured her back.
“My life was immediately changed,” Anderson said. “I couldn’t move; I couldn’t do anything, and nothing provided relief.”
For three weeks, Colleen did nothing but lay in bed and ice her back. She returned to her classroom but couldn’t interact with her kindergarteners in the way she was used to. At the end of the school day, Colleen could barely walk to her car.
“As a teacher for young children, I’m used to bending over to engage in conversation, helping students tie their shoes or picking up the scattered toys and crayons. It was hard to pretend I wasn’t hurting all day,” Colleen said.
When the doctors and physical therapists near her home were unable to help, Colleen followed a friend’s recommendation to try St. Joseph Mercy Chelsea. Continue reading “Living Again”
Whether you’re a teenage athlete suffering from an acute sports injury or a 70-year-old grandparent suffering from joint pain or arthritis, foot pain does not need to be an acceptable part of your life.
Anatomically speaking, our feet are among the most intricate structures in our bodies. Taken together, our two feet are made up of 56 bones, or roughly 25 percent of all bones in the human body. Each foot has 28 bones, 33 joints, 107 ligaments, 19 muscles and many tendons, all working together to move us from point A to point B, while supporting a tremendous amount of weight with every step we take. With such a complex structure and the constant physical demand being placed on feet, it’s no wonder that 75 percent of Americans will experience health problems with their feet in their lifetime.
Elliot Valenstein, PhD, glides through the water as he completes 50 laps at the neighborhood racquet club pool. Swimming is one of the many ways he’s remained fit and healthy for most of his remarkable 92 years.
He also walks, rides his bike and has even been seen working on the roof of his Ann Arbor home from time to time.
But he wasn’t always so active.
“As I got older my joints began to ache and my walking became limited,” Dr. Valenstein says.
The discomfort increased over the course of a few years until, by his 90th birthday, he decided to have hip replacement surgery at St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor to relieve the pain.
He scheduled the procedure with board-certified orthopedic surgeon Dr. Thomas O’Keefe. Within a few hours of the surgery, he was sitting in a chair reading a book. A few days later, he left the hospital and entered a sub-acute facility to start rehab. After two days, he felt so good that he was able to continue his exercises at home.
“The care was excellent,” he recalls. “After the recovery period, the pain was gone and my movement was re-established. I was fine.”
Dr. Valenstein resumed swimming and doing the things that bring him and his family joy.
It’s a life that seems to be getting better with age.
As a young G.I. in the World War II, Dr. Valenstein served in the jungles of Burma. Following the war, he earned his doctorate in neuroscience from the University of Kansas and became a distinguished researcher at Walter Reed Institute of Research in Washington D.C. He returned to Ann Arbor to teach at the University of Michigan until his retirement. He is a published author and noted authority on brain stimulation and psychosurgery.
Dr. Valenstein and his wife still reside in the home they bought together in 1970 and where they raised two sons – Dr. Paul Valenstein, a pathologist at St. Joe’s Ann Arbor, and Carl Valenstein, an international law attorney.
Later this year, Dr. Valenstein will travel to California to officiate the wedding of his granddaughter.
Thanks to the expertise of Dr. O’Keefe and the team at St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor, Dr. Valenstein’s new hip allows him to continue enjoying life to the fullest.
“The hip wasn’t a major life event in the grand scheme of things, and that’s a good thing,” he says.
Spring is here and the warmer weather means gardening, golf, spring cleaning and many other physical activities. But if a bum shoulder hinders motion, it may be a good time to look into arthroscopic surgery.
“It’s hard to imagine that only a few short years ago all shoulder repair surgeries were performed with large, wide-open wounds,” said Michael Chrissos, MD, a board-certified orthopedic surgeon with Michigan Orthopedic Center on the campus of St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor. “The vast majority of shoulder repairs — some 99 percent — are performed arthroscopically.
There is far less pain, blood loss and muscle trauma, and a much smaller scar.”
Recovery is tricky because, according to Chrissos, patients feel so good right after surgery they try to do too much too soon. “It’s critical patients understand that the healing process takes time,” he cautions. “This procedure not only relieves the shoulder pain, it vastly improves their range of motion. But it takes time.”
When arthroscopy first became available, Chrissos, saw opportunity to be in on the ground floor of a wide-spread revolution. “At first there was a lot of resistance and plenty of skepticism,” he said, “and there should have been. When something new is introduced, you want to be sure it’s proven; but I knew intuitively that this technique was going to meet—or surpass—the results of open surgery.”
Stretching the boundaries of the technology that was available at the time, he and a colleague, Dr. John Morris, actually worked with a local engineer to design a prototype that vastly improved the suturing process. “They designed a special needle that would load, push through and pull back in the tiny little incision,” he said. The patented product was refined and manufactured. Chrissos uses anchors to hold the sutures, comprised of an inert plastic that most patients seem to tolerate well.
There’s a misconception between joint replacement and arthroscopic surgery. “It’s important to note that when I’m talking about arthroscopic shoulder surgery, I’m not talking about shoulder joint replacements. I am referring to repairing torn or damaged tendons, ligaments and cartilage,” he said. “Because we insert a camera during surgery we can see 360 degrees, and have a much better view of what we’re doing verses traditional open surgery,” said Dr. Chrissos. “There’s also less risk of infection and less stiffness.”
Arthroscopy: Sometimes called “key hole” surgery, arthroscopy is a minimally invasive procedure performed via small incisions using specially designed instruments and a viewing scope that is inserted into the affected area and projects images onto monitors in the operating room.
Candidates for shoulder repair generally fall into two categories:
Under 40 years of age, who have suffered some kind of trauma— young athletes, accident victims or other injury sufferers
Over 40 years of age, with an accumulation of wear-and-tear from general use, arthritis or other underlying condition
“Tremendous strides have been made with arthroscopic shoulder surgery, that Dr. Chrissos wants patients and referring physicians to know that there is no need to delay. “Early evaluation is critical and we can avoid complications and worse outcomes with timely intervention.”
Karen Langdon enjoyed dancing, scuba diving and living an active lifestyle with her husband. This all came to a screeching halt when the onset of debilitating pain in both hips, stemming from severe hip arthritis made doing the simple things in life, almost impossible. “It got so bad that I couldn’t do two dances in a row and over time it got worse and worse,” explained Karen.
Following two minimally invasive total hip replacements, performed by G. Victor Gibson, D.O. , a board-certified orthopedic surgeon with Saint Joseph Mercy Health System, using the anterior hip approach, Karen was able to reconnect with her loving dance partner, virtually pain free.
“Now I can go shopping and walk around the mall if I want to, scuba diving of course, and best of all I can go dancing with my husband again,” explains Karen.
“Karen has significantly fewer restrictions along with a reduced recovery time following the anterior hip approach as opposed to more traditional total hip replacements.” says Dr. Victor Gibson.
Karen has re-discovered her freedom, living a life free of pain. “There really are no restrictions after surgery. Just go do it, I recommend it highly, you will be so glad you did. Living a life that’s no longer in constant pain is wonderful”