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Patient Stories - Jeffrey Benowitz

Reaching the Summit: From Alaska to HSS for Ankle Repair

After a mountaineering accident 10 years ago that occurred 100 miles east of his home in Fairbanks, Alaska, Jeffrey Benowitz, PhD, was told to quit his job, find a new life, and learn to be happy without being able to walk again. For Dr. Benowitz, who skis to work as a rock climbing instructor and geochronologist at the University of Alaska, this was a diagnosis he was unwilling to accept.

Dr. Benowitz had multiple surgeries since his accident in 2002, all unsuccessful. "Being an athlete and not being able to experience movement was horrifying," Dr. Benowitz recalled. His brother-in-law Daniel Rosenberg recommended a trip to Hospital for Special Surgery.

S. Robert Rozbruch, MD

S. Robert Rozbruch, MD, Chief of the Hospital’s Limb Lengthening and Complex Reconstruction Service, described the objective of Dr. Benowitz’s surgery as two-fold: correct the deformity in his tibia and perform an ankle distraction arthroplasty, which focuses on joint restoration and motion preservation.

"We provided a progressive, state-of-the-art approach," says Dr. Rozbruch. "We didn’t want to replace his ankle or fuse the joint."

"I finally experienced a procedure that worked after coming to HSS," says Dr. Benowitz. "Dr. Rozbruch really took the time to make me whole again. Climbing, skiing, hiking – I have no slowdowns."

This story first appeared in the Summer 2012 issue of Horizon, the HSS news magazine.