WARWICK—For Ron Lagasse, the pain in his ankles had become too great. The Massachusetts native had trouble doing simple tasks, and medications were not working.
“I got so tired of everything,” he says. “I hated garbage nights because I had to walk to the end of the driveway; it was ridiculous how limited I was.”
Even when Lagasse returned to his regular care doctor for a solution, he received “I can’t do anything for you,” and a diagnosis of stage 4 arthritis in his left and right ankles.
But that doctor referred him to Dr. Stephen Rogers at the Foot & Ankle Institute of New England, the first step towards the full recover Lagasse now enjoys.
Rogers suggested a new approach for total ankle replacement called INBONE, developed by Tennessee-based Wright Medical.
“Ankle replacements have been available for over 30 years, but as with any invention, it starts out rather cruelly, and subsequent versions build on each other,” notes Rogers about the technique. “About eight to 10 years ago, Wright developed a device which holds the ankle in place so that the surgery can better target and align the ankle joint, thus giving them a better position for the surgeon to put the ankle into.”
Lagasse was submitted to a CAT scan, from which Rogers and Wright Medical staff developed a customized joint implant to provide a high level of mobility.
After approximately two hours of surgery, Lagasse emerged with two new ankles and a clear path towards returning to the active lifestyle he once enjoyed. The subsequent rehabilitation, which required considerable physical therapy, was a necessary challenge.
“I started my rehab on crutches,” he explained. “I would go in there and have a manipulation of my ankle by a therapist. I was the first person at that rehab facility that had ever had that type of surgery.”
“I did gentle exercises at home for a couple of weeks in the beginning and had continual movement. It was a difficult rehab, but it certainly was worth it.”
Lagasse is grateful to Rogers and his staff for giving his ankles back, even when his insurance company initially denied the Massachusetts native for the surgery because they did not know of the total ankle replacement technique.
“When I spoke to Dr. Roger’s staff, I said, “i guess we’re not going to be able to do this,” recalled Lagasse. “They told me, ‘you don’t worry about that, let’s see if we can handle it.’ And they did, they really advocated for me.”
For both Rogers and Lagasse, getting the word out the public about the INBONE procedure is crucial in providing better options for patients facing total ankle replacement.
“So many people are not aware of this at all, not only just the patients but physicians included,” said Rogers. “There is another viable option out there now.”
The Foot & Ankle Institute of New England has offices in Warwick, Middletown, and Fall River. For more information about Dr. Rogers and the INBONE procedure, visit www.newenglandfoot.com