By Sandra J. Pennecke
Correspondent Feb 19, 2016
As a child, and still as an adult, Dr. Michael Campbell has had a love of building, creating and working with his hands.
Today, Campbell is able to use his passion to heal and improve people’s lives.
Prior to entering medical school, Campbell worked as a physical therapist. It was then that he marveled at how an orthopedic surgeon’s short trip to the operating room could immediately change and positively impact someone’s life.
That’s when Campbell’s own path – and life – changed course.
“The changes that come from orthopedic surgery are immediate – fixing a broken bone, replacing an ankle joint,” Campbell said. “Putting someone back together or taking away their pain gives me a tremendous feeling of pride and satisfaction.”
Since joining the staff at Atlantic Orthopaedic Specialists in 2011, where he sub-specializes in foot and ankle surgery, Campbell also has changed the lives of others.
One patient, Natashia Christian, made history alongside Campbell when he performed the first procedure of its kind in the United States last year.
The Orthofix Hexapod External Fixator recently received approval by the FDA for gradual repositioning of bones in the lower extremities.
“I was lucky to be in the first group of surgeons in the United States to be trained on it,” Campbell said of the course, which took several days at the Texas Scottish Rite Children’s Hospital in Texas.
On Christian, who suffered from congenital rickets that caused severe leg bowing, Campbell surgically applied the fixators on both her femur and tibia – upper and lower leg.
The 5½-hour surgery was filmed for future training purposes.
“I did the surgery, with a headset, while narrating with a camera over my shoulder,” Campbell said, noting the setup felt a bit strange. “Once we were about halfway through the procedure, I knew it was going wonderfully, and the second half was powered by excitement and adrenaline.”
Campbell will repeat the procedure, to straighten and lengthen Christian’s left leg, next month. He also has three other patients scheduled for similar surgeries this year.
“There is nothing better than when someone tells me how wonderful they are, and how much they have improved after I have treated them,” he said. “The handshake, hug or back slap they give as they walk out of my office for the last time is what makes me tick.”
Campbell was quick to share the credit.
“Medicine, and orthopedic surgery, in particular, is a team sport,” he said. “While I performed the surgery on Natashia, there were nurses, physical therapists, medical assistants and secretaries in the background facilitating her outstanding outcome.”
Sandra J. Pennecke, firstname.lastname@example.org