Back on Track

Imagine being active your entire life, only to lose the ability to engage in the activities that brought you joy. This is exactly what happened to David Dibernardi.

Dave, a 60-year-old from Lake Milton, Ohio, spent most of his childhood playing sports; including, baseball, softball, and basketball. As he aged, he not only continued to play basketball recreationally, but he also began to widen his horizons to include golfing, bowling, and slalom skiing. Dave continued to stay active throughout his life by adding regular workouts and running half marathons to his schedule.

This all came to a halt when he turned 50 years old. “My right foot started to bother me and I had to slow down. I couldn’t run as much as I used to and it got to the point where it was hard for me to get through the workday,” says Dave.

That’s when I realized that I needed to see a doctor. From the moment he met with Dr. Robert Mendicino, he knew he was in good hands. “He took one look at my ankle and asked me if I’ve played a lot of sports and twisted a lot of ankles throughout my life,” explained Dave. After completing an evaluation, Dr. Mendicino was able to determine that Dave would need to have fusion surgery completed on his right ankle. “He took the time to sit down with me and explain the difference between replacement surgery and fusion surgery and why fusion surgery was my best shot at getting back to my active lifestyle,” says Dave.

In December 2021, Dr. Mendicino performed a fusion surgery on Dave’s right ankle. During the procedure, a plate was inserted, extending from the upper part of his foot to about three inches up his shin. This plate fused the bones in his ankle, significantly reducing the pain and inflammation he had been experiencing.

After Dave’s surgery, he continued seeing Dr. Mendicino for regular checkups every two weeks and he began seeing a physical therapist two to three times a week. During his physical therapy sessions, Dave worked on strength training for not only his right foot and ankle, but also the left side of his body. He spent a lot of time favoring his right side before surgery because of the pain he was feeling, so physical therapy helped him get back to walking the way he did before he began having trouble. These regular visits and the hard work he put in during physical therapy paid off because soon he was making tremendous progress.

“My family and friends cannot believe the progress I have made,” Dave says. “Dr. Mendicino saved my life. He got me back to doing what I love.”

Surgery has allowed Dave to slowly get back to living an active lifestyle. He has resumed exercising on the treadmill and has also rekindled his routine of taking two to three-mile walks with his wife. “When I went on vacation to Florida I ended up walking 10 miles with my wife. Before surgery, I could barely do anything, but now there is so much in my life that I can do,” explained Dave.

Dave’s journey is not over, however. His left foot has started showing signs of having the same problems that his right foot did and he will continue to work with Dr. Mendicino to reduce the pain that he is feeling. He is excited to see what he will be able to do once both of his feet are feeling as great as his right foot is and he knows that Dr. Mendicino will be able to help get him to that point. “No one helped me like he did. Everything he told me has come true,” says Dave.

foot and ankle surgery, Mendicino, orthopedic surgery