Monday, January 11, 2010

Complex Spine Surgery Helps Man Walk Again

When Sherman Johnson first started feeling numbness in his hands,legs and feet, he didn’t really give the problem much thought. But when it reached the point where he could no longer use his hands or walk, he knew he needed help.

“It had gotten so bad, I wasn’t able to function anymore,” Johnson says. “That’s when I went to Fauquier Hospital to find out what was wrong.”

Charles Seal, M.D., an orthopedic spine surgeon with Blue Ridge Orthopaedic & Spine Center, was consulted the day Johnson arrived.

“Mr. Johnson had severe compression of his spinal cord at multiple levels in his neck,” Dr. Seal explains. “That’s what was causing him to lose function in his arms and legs. As an orthopedic spine surgeon, I treat this type of problem frequently, but Mr. Johnson had a very severe version of it. I knew that if he did not get surgery right away, he was going to end up in a wheelchair.”

Dr. Seal performed four surgical procedures at Fauquier Hospital: an anterior cervical corpectomy, diskectomy, reconstruction and fusion. “We removed two bones and three discs from Mr. Johnson’s neck to relieve the pressure on his spinal cord and nerves,” Dr. Seal says. “After that, we reconstructed his neck using a titanium cage combined with a titanium plate and screws to fuse his neck.”
The surgery was successful, and even though a full recovery for a patient in Johnson’s condition can take as long as 18 months, Dr. Seal noticed considerable improvement within the first month. “Three weeks after the surgery, Mr. Johnson saw a dramatic improvement in the use of his hands and was able to walk without using a cane.”
Now, just a few months after the surgery, Johnson is happy to be back at work at the Fauquier SPCA.

He’s also happy with Dr. Seal and Fauquier Health. “Dr. Seal eliminated my pain,” Johnson says. “I know it’s a slow process and I’m not completely out of the woods yet, but I’m getting the feeling back in my legs and I can walk better now.”

In addition to being pleased with the exceptional care he received, Johnson is also impressed because he has no visible scars. “A lot of times when you have surgery, you get that zipper mark, but I don’t have any marks,” Johnson says.

Johnson was happy with everyone who worked with him during his stay. “As an example, while I was at the hospital, I had to go down to get my MRI,” Johnson explains. “As I was leaving the room, my dinner tray arrived. By the time I got back to my room, I thought I was going to have to eat a cold dinner, but they actually brought me a new hot meal. Everyone at Fauquier Hospital — from the nurses to the janitors to the financial counselors — was very helpful and welcoming.”

To learn more about how Fauquier Health’s orthopedic services can help you, call 540-316-DOCS (3627), or send an e-mail to referral@fauquierhealth.org.

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