(Beachwood, NJ- April, 12, 2012) – When Fran Wisnewski fell in her own kitchen, she had no idea what her future would hold. After landing on her knees, two months later she had foot drop. “I could feel everything to the touch, but I couldn’t move my foot,” she reports.
Foot drop describes the inability to raise the front part of the foot due to weakness or paralysis of the muscles that lift the foot. As a result, individuals with foot drop drag their toes along the ground or bend their knees to lift their foot higher than usual to avoid the scuffing, which causes what is called a “steppage” gait. Foot drop can be unilateral (affecting one foot) or bilateral (affecting both feet).
Although foot drop has a variety of causes, it can be the result of nerve damage alone, such as in Wisnewski’s case.
Wisnewski, a 45-year-old Beachwood, New Jersey resident, who works as a manager of a group home for the mentally disabled, started off at her primary care physician, who then sent her to an orthopedist. The orthopedist sent her to a neurologist, who gave her a brain scan to rule out any neurological problem. “It’s very frustrating when they can’t tell you what’s wrong,” she says. Finally, the neurologist referred her to Dr. Michael Rose of The Institute for Advanced Reconstruction located in Shrewsbury, New Jersey.
Fortunately for Wisnewski, Dr. Rose is among a handful of plastic surgeons trained in nerve decompression surgery for those suffering from all forms of neuropathy. He felt Wisnewski had suffered nerve damage in the knee caused by her fall. It could either be rectified by a nerve graft, or by the removal of scar tissue around the nerve. The latter, more conservative approach, worked for her.
Wisnewski is one of nearly 20 million Americans who suffer from neuropathy, a chronic condition that results from damage to or compression of the nerves outside the spinal cord and brain, and also referred to as peripheral neuropathy. According to Dr. Rose, traumatic neuropathy is common –and he sees a good deal of in his practice.
Within a week after surgery, Wisnewski had some movement in her foot. “Today,” she reports, “I feel like nothing happened.”
Says Dr. Rose, “I think the best advice is not to automatically accept it when you are told there is nothing that can be done. It took Fran Wisnewski three doctors until she was sent to the proper person. It’s just fortunate that her neurologist was aware of the work I do, and so she was sent to me. Many doctors would simply say: Learn to live with it; there is nothing we can do. It’s hard to believe, but often even very good doctors don’t know what cutting-edge procedures that other specialists are doing. There is simply so much to know, and so much new being discovered all the time.
“In an ideal world, Fran would somehow know to call me directly, but the reality is, most people go to their general practitioner first for some direction. It wasn’t a straight line, but she did, in fact, end up at the right place in the end.”
Wisnewski appreciated Dr. Rose’s demeanor and knowledge. “You can tell he knows what he’s talking about. I had immediate confidence in him. He told me the surgery was not 100 percent guarantee, but he still gave me hope.”
Dr. Michael Rose gave Fran Wisnewski more than hope; he gave her a “rescue after a fall.”