OrthoConnecticut

Joe SassanoThe condition: When Joe Sassano noticed that the fingers in his left hand had started to lack mobility and became slightly claw-like, he knew right away it was time to consult an orthopedic hand surgeon. Joe, age 70, is a passionate bass player who has been playing since age 11 and enjoys playing in a local band called “Decades,” around the Fairfield County. He knew that the condition would ultimately affect his ability to play if not treated right away.

The condition, called Dupuytrens Contracture, but often referred to as Vikings disease, is a genetic disease commonly found in people with Northern European lineage. It causes scarring growths on the fascia of the palm, causing the fingers to slowly cave in and form a claw-like position. However, the condition is painless, so many people do not realize it is happening until the restriction in their hand is quite noticeable.

The treatment: Fortunately, Joe knew the signs of the condition right away because he had developed it in his right hand three years earlier. At that time, he turned to Dr. John Lunt at The Hand Center at OrthoConnecticut, who initially attempted to treat the condition non-surgically, through a series of injections. However, while injection therapy has been successful on some patients, it did not work effectively enough for Joe, who ultimately opted for a surgical procedure. Dr. Lunt successfully operated on the hand and Joe eventually returned to full mobility.

This time around, Joe knew the signs and went to Dr. Lunt right away. He also knew he had several band gigs set up for mid-February that he couldn’t miss, so he needed to be fully healed by that time. He waited until right after the holidays, and underwent surgery on January 3rd.

“I drove four miles from my home in Brookfield to the OrthoConnecticut Surgical Center in Danbury, had surgery at 2 p.m., recovered, and was home by dinner time,“ Joe explains. He then underwent intensive post-surgery physical therapy at the same location. “The staff at the surgical center and at the P.T. office are just fantastic, and having these services so close to home made it easy to get to all of my appointments.

The result: Due to a combination of Dr. Lunt’s skill and Joe’s diligence with his physical therapy, three weeks to the date of his surgery, Joe attended band practice and was able to play. In fact, that evening he posted on his Facebook page, “Thanks to great work by hand specialist Dr. John Lunt and great post-op work by my very talented therapist Stephanie Tomaszewsky, I picked up my bass last night and played with no pain, no restrictions and great feel.”

“The surgery for Dupuytrens Contracture is relatively invasive, and recovery usually takes a couple of months,” commented Dr. Lunt. He attributes Joe’s amazingly rapid recovery to his positive outlook and dedication to his physical therapy after surgery, adding, “working with an experienced team of physicians and therapists also helps maximize the success of the surgery and minimize recovery time.”

Dr. Lunt recommends that people with this condition and other degenerative conditions seek treatment from a doctor as early as possible to ensure better surgical outcomes. “The longer patients wait, the more extensive surgery is required, with more trauma, resulting in longer recovery time,” he advises.

 
 

ClavicleThe condition: Colleen, a Physical Therapy graduate student working toward her doctorate at University of Connecticut, was working out at the campus gym when a squat bar holding 200 pounds of weights fell off a rack and on to her. The result was a broken clavicle, in addition to a puncture wound to her lower abdomen. After a night in the hospital for the wound, she went straight to Dr. Angelo Ciminiello’s office at Danbury Orthopedics. Both of her parents, who live in Danbury, had been patients of Dr. Ciminiello and she knew she could trust him to treat her quickly and professionally. An x-ray revealed that her clavicle was broken in two places. Although Dr. Ciminiello told her that it was possible to wait and see if the bones would repair on their own, Colleen opted for surgery to get back into her physical routine and training as quickly as possible.

The treatment: Only 48 hours after being evaluated, Colleen was in surgery. Dr. Ciminiello repaired her clavicle with a permanent titanium plate and six screws. “Colleen is an active, young woman who had a devastating injury. We discussed various treatment options and felt that surgical fixation of her clavicle would allow her to get back to her active lifestyle the quickest,” explains Dr. Ciminiello. Three days later Colleen was back in school, and began stretching and lifting light weights to regain mobility in her arm and increase strength.

The result: Just three months post-surgery, Colleen could return to a full personal exercise regimen and do all her work as a physical therapist. She is glad that she did not “wait and see,” since if she had not healed on her own, she still would have had to have surgery and been out of commission even longer. She is thrilled and relieved that she could return to work so quickly. “Dr. Ciminiello was great. He spent so much time with me making sure I understood the pros and cons of surgery, and I could see that he really cared about me having an excellent outcome,” she explains. Today she is in peak shape, and can sumo dead lift 160 pounds, and do a 155 pound squat lift.

 
 

walkerThe condition: Mary began having trouble walking in her early 50’s.  The difficulty continued to progress, and in time her hips began hurting too.  A series of tests and doctors determined that she had a neuromuscular disease that was also complicated by severely arthritic hips.  She felt she was too young for hip replacement surgery, but after she became wheelchair bound and was unable to care for herself or her family, she decided to reconsider.

The treatment: Mary met with Total Joint Specialist, Dr. Robert Deveney, who explained that hip replacement would ease her hip pain but he could not guarantee full mobility because of the neuromuscular disease.  “When there are other underlying medical conditions, surgeons are often reluctant to operate,” Dr. Deveney explains. “However, given the advanced surgical techniques and implants we now use, we have broadened our ability to help patients with a wider range of issues, and I was confident that the surgery would improve Mary’s quality of life and reduce her level of pain.”

Although she was scared of having surgery, Mary decided to proceed with Dr. Deveney to replace one hip, since she felt things couldn’t possibly get any worse.  Twenty-four hours after her first hip replacement surgery, she felt no pain in her hip for the first time in years. “It was like a miracle,” she exclaimed.  After three months of home care and physical therapy, Mary gained some mobility, and decided to proceed with having the other hip replaced.  Three months following her second hip replacement, Mary began to use a walker and had independence for the first time in three years.  She was pain free for the first time in years.

The result: In the year since her second completed hip replacement, Mary feels like she has been given her life back.  She can now drive and move around her house without assistance.  She uses only a cane outside the house (due to symptoms of her neuromuscular disorder) but she cannot believe how far she has come.  “I can go to church after two years,” she explained, adding, “ten years ago I wouldn’t have imagined I’d be so happy to do such simple things.”  Her advice to others: Don’t wait so long.  “I made a mistake by waiting and lived with so much pain. It is an easy surgery and an easy recovery and it changed my life.”

 
 

Disclaimer: Any prior results discussed in this site do not guarantee a similar outcome.