Best Life: Virtual reality for ankle replacements

Updated: May. 10, 2021 at 8:17 AM CDT
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MIAMI, Fla. (Ivanhoe Newswire) -- The ankle is the most sprained and strained joint in the body. Over time, cartilage can wear down causing arthritis of the ankle. When medication and braces fail to ease pain, surgery may become an option. Now virtual reality is allowing doctors to customize the surgery before patients even enter the OR.

Running, jumping, walking, kicking, even standing. You use your ankle a lot. But a bad fall can put you on the sidelines.

“My whole body was like a contortionist. The pain had gotten so bad that I was pulling my foot and the amount of walking I could do was minimal,” stated Bonnie Henshaw.

Bonnie had severe ankle arthritis.

“She tried anti-inflammatory. She tried bracing. She tried cortisone injection. After a while, it just became too painful that none of those things were working,” shared Clive Woods, MD, a board-certified orthopedic surgeon and foot & ankle specialist at Westside Regional Medical Center in Plantation, Florida.

“That was a Band-Aid over a problem. I knew I couldn’t live like that,” said Bonnie.

So, Woods suggested an ankle replacement. With this surgery, Woods used virtual reality to practice the surgery beforehand.

“Using the Oculus, you can actually be in the OR, go step by step as far as drilling, cutting, you know, looking at x-rays,” explained Woods.

Making for a quicker and more efficient surgery.

“The more efficient you are in surgery, less chance of infection because of less or time, less anesthesia,” said Woods.

Bonnie was able to go home the same day she had the surgery and now looks forward to living out her golden years without ankle pain.

“The older you get, you’re looking out the other end and you want to get out there and live and enjoy life,” exclaimed Bonnie.

After surgery, Woods recommends patients limit high-impact activities, such as running and jumping. But Dr. Woods says sports such as doubles tennis or pickleball are okay to play.

Contributors to this news report include: Milvionne Chery, Producer; Roque Correa, Editor; and Judy Reich, Videographer.

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