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Ankle reconstruction returns quality of life for avid outdoorsman

James Riis story portrait
James Riis, pictured here, suffered a compound ankle fracture that left him in pain for years.

James Riis is an avid hunter, fisherman, and all around outdoor enthusiast. He’s prepared for anything out in the woods, but a complicated ankle injury days before Christmas is something he didn’t expect. 

“I was coming down from the tree stand with one hand – which is something you aren’t supposed to do,” he says. “I felt myself start to fall backwards so I jumped to avoid falling on my gun. As soon as I hit the ground, my ankle bone shot out.”

Riis was rushed to the hospital for his injury, a serious compound fracture. The doctors bandaged him up but referred him to a trauma specialist for his surgery and further treatment. With Christmas days away, he wanted to be sure he was home for the holiday. He could not have imagined this accident would be affecting his life more than two years later.

After multiple surgeries over the course of two years, Riis was still in pain and on crutches. He didn’t know if he would ever live a pain-free life or do the things he once loved. The ankle injury he sustained had seriously impacted his way of life.

“I was to the point of wanting to cut my foot off,” Riss said. “Dr. Albert Haas at The Orthopaedic Group, P.C. told me to hold off because they had a new doctor coming who he was sure could help me.”

At his first appointment with Dr. Matt McKean, Riis made it clear that he was ready to have an amputation if his ankle couldn’t be fixed. Dr. McKean reviewed the medical files and listened to Riis’s concerns.

“I felt like we had the opportunity to salvage his ankle and his foot,” says McKean. “After several discussions we decided to perform a reconstructive operation.”

The reconstructive operation would involve removing the damaged ankle joint to replace it with an artificial joint. Riis agreed with the treatment plan and Dr. McKean performed the eight hour surgery.

Following the surgery, Riis was able to walk on a boot without crutches. Before he knew it, he was walking with neither pain nor assistance–for the first time in two years. Riis couldn’t be happier to return to the life he once lived. He credits Dr. McKean in our Foot & Ankle Center of Excellence for his expertise in his ankle reconstruction.

“He’s a miracle worker! I was one sad fellow to want to cut his leg off,” he says. “The quality of my life is so much better. I can walk normal now and I don’t have a limp at all. Whatever happens to me, I want it done here at The Orthopaedic Group because I trust them.”

For more than 40 years, patients throughout the Gulf Coast have chosen our orthopaedic doctors at The Orthopaedic Group, P.C., for specialized care in the spine, shoulder and elbow, hand and wrist, hip and knee, and foot and ankle.

Our fellowship-trained doctors have extensive education and experience in evaluating, diagnosing, and treating all orthopaedic injuries and conditions.

Experienced, Expert care for over 40 years.

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