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Romano Robert Vanderbes

New York, NY

In 1954 (age 16 living in Amsterdam and attending secondary school) I was diagnosed with reus cel tumor (a benign soft tissue tumor just below the knee of the left leg). The tumor was removed but the surgery resulted in a drop foot. For a number of years I managed with a variety of devices: braces, booties, cowboy boots. Here creativity was definitely rewarded. Some years later, 1958, living in NY, I consulted a neurologist for an opinion. From that quarter came little hope, but he put me over to Dr. Wilson at HSS. (In those years still named felicitously "Hospital for the Lame and Crippled".) Dr. Wilson and Dr. Rolla Campbell suggested a two-part procedure: a) a triple arthrodesis (a partial ankle fusion) for ankle stability and b) a tendon rerouting procedure; tendons from the side of the ankle were to be rerouted through internal membrane to the top of the foot to provide a measure of dorsiflexion (up and down movement) to correct the drop foot condition. Both procedures were done and I healed like I had visited Lourdes. For the next forty years+ I could run, play tennis, even play surfbum in Hawaii for a brief interlude and drink in the best bars. HSS triumph #1. Unfortunately, karma has it, a price has to be paid at some point. The left ankle trauma of the fifties resulted in gradual arthritis developing in the tibia-ankle joint. Consultations with ankle specialists at HSS where not heartwarming. Artificial replacement ankle joints available in the US had a reputation of being only slightly better than used bicycle parts. Doing some late night internet research I came across 'distraction therapy' developed in my old home country The Netherlands by a group of orthopedic specialists using a non-invasive procedure using an Ilizaroff frame. About eight years ago, talking with Dr. Mark Figgie (an HSS top hip specialist), I asked him about 'distraction therapy' for ankle arthritis. He replied he had no direct experience with distraction, but should I wish to explore that topic the man to be contacted was S. Robert Rozbruch. A few calls were made and a week later I saw Dr. Rozbruch at HSS. I realized he might be the answer to my problem and we scheduled the completely non-invasive procedure - left ankle distraction arthroplasty. Six months later I was walking around London not feeling any ankle joint pain. Delusional ideas of auditioning for the Sadler Wells Ballet did drift through my subconscious. Forgive me. In seven years I've not felt the old ankle joint. HSS Triumph #2. Love that place by the East River and all the magicians that practice there.