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Mark Balaban

New Paltz, NY

In February 2017, I was in a bad skiing accident involving a fall from a significant height, and shattered both of my ankles. I was taken to the local Emergency Room. With a shocked look on her face, the nurse said she had never seen an injury like it. I immediately had a procedure there to put in external stabilizers. The local surgeon told me I’d never run or play racquetball again (two of my favorite pastimes). They said the goal was to help me walk again without assistive devices. I had bilateral pilon fractures.

I spent the following week searching for a surgeon with expertise to perform the reconstruction of my ankles. I read online forums about this injury and found them bleak and depressing. Fortunately, I found Dr. David Levine at HSS. He clearly had familiarity and expertise with this injury, and took the time to explain the injury, surgery, and recovery process. He told me he was not sure if I’d ever run again, but said it might be possible.

Dr. Levine reconstructed both of my ankles with 7 total plates. One ankle healed well, the other needed a follow up procedure for a portion of bone that did not heal properly. Dr. Levine performed an additional surgery and that bone healed properly and fully. One and a half years after the surgery, I elected to have the plates and screws removed. The surgeries and recoveries were as described, and I received excellent care from Dr. Levine, Lisa Pearson and the nurses and staff at HSS.

Rehab has been a long process. From 3 months in a wheelchair to walking in a pool to finally walking on land, it was hard work and required persistence and determination. I committed myself to the process, and had a great physical therapy team led by Vicky and Joe at the Center for Physical Therapy. I was in intensive physical therapy for a full year, and I continue to do exercises every day.

One year after my injury I tried running for the first time. I was slow and awkward, but I stuck with it and it gradually became smoother and faster. I’m 21 months out from my accident now. I know I’ll probably never be at 100% again, but I’ve well exceeded what the local doctor told me would be possible. I’m running again. Not as fast as I used to, but getting faster with time. Over the past two weeks I started played racquetball again, and I’ve felt great. I still find myself improving as time goes on. I’m doing much better than the terrible stories I read in the online forums, and much more than the local doctor said would be possible.

Thank you Dr. Levine and HSS!