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Mono skier Thankful for New Knee

Friday, December 09, 2011 - New Milford, CT

 Non-cement implant helps patients stay active

A retired welder who now builds houses, 66-year-old Curt Fabische wasn’t going to let a painful knee interfere with his passion for gliding down snow-covered mountains on a single ski in a little-known sport known as mono-skiing.

Determined to “never become a couch potato,” Fabische turned to Anthony Viola, MD, of New Milford Orthopedic Associates, for total knee replacement surgery using a non-cement implant designed for patients with active lifestyles. Three months after surgery and rehabilitation, Fabische was back to motorcycle riding, hiking, biking, kayaking and hunting. He’s ready to strap on his monoski as soon as the first snowfall arrives.

“I’m as active as a 21-year-old,” said the Gaylordsville resident. “What’s the point of retiring if you can’t enjoy life?”

Healthy bones, healthy outcomes

“Curt is a role model of what we should all be like as we get older,” said Dr. Viola, a board-certified orthopedic surgeon. “It’s important to stay active and fit as we age so we can enjoy our retirement. The more active we are, the healthier our bones are.” Fabische’s bones were so healthy that Dr. Viola used a non-cement knee implant usually reserved for younger patients.

“With a non-cement implant, the bone grows directly into the pores of the metal which can help people stay active,” explained Dr. Viola. “We usually don’t use this type of implant with older patients because they have poor bone quality due to osteoporosis or osteopenia; their bone won’t grow into the metal implant. Fabische, on the other hand, had the bones of a 40-year-old.”

No short cuts on road to recovery

Physical rehabilitation is an important component of the recovery process. “There are no short cuts when it comes to rehabilitation,” said Dr. Viola. “Your body needs time to heal, especially when you’re expecting the bone to meld into the metal implant. Athletes sometimes have a hard time waiting until the healing process is done.”

Fabische knows from experience how tough it can be to be patient. He re-injured his knee after arthroscopic knee surgery a few years ago because he went back to work too soon. This time, Fabische is determined to listen to the advice of his surgeon and rehabilitation experts. He’s also grateful for the expert care he received at New Milford Hospital. “They have a bed for me there,” joked Fabische, referring to the many times he has turned to the hospital throughout the years. “Physically, I’m in excellent condition – except for what I do to myself!”

Ready to hit the slopes

His latest passion is mono-skiing, a sport that involves the use a single, doublewide ski. The bindings on a mono-ski are side-by-side so the skier’s legs are locked together facing forward. “Mono-skiing is easier on the knees than conventional skiing because you’re using your upper body to ski,” said Fabische. “You can ski all day, even if you have a bad back or bad knees.”

Fabische expects to hit the slopes soon. He has no intention of heeding the call of those who say he should slow down. “You got to keep going to stay young.”

About Western Connecticut Health Network

Western Connecticut Health Network is a patient-centered health care organization established in 2010 by two nationally recognized hospitals, Danbury Hospital, New Milford Hospital and their affiliated organizations, to provide the highest level of care to patients throughout Western Connecticut and adjacent New York. In addition to the two hospitals, other network affiliates include:

  • An integrated physician practice with primary and specialty care expertise
  • An agency for home care and community health services
  • A full-service retail pharmacy located at Danbury Hospital
  • Emergency medical services
  • An occupational wellness and medicine program, providing services for business and industry

Western Connecticut Health Network has centers of excellence in Women’s, neonatal, cardiovascular and cancer services; weight loss and orthopedic surgery; digestive disorders and radiology and diagnostic imaging. It also offers specialized programs for sleep disorders and asthma management.  Both hospitals also maintain active clinical research programs, offering clinical trials for patients with cancer and other health concerns.

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About New Milford Hospital

New Milford Hospital is a Planetree organization dedicated to patient-centered care that nurtures every patient's body, mind and spirit.  The Hospital has an extraordinary tradition of warm and caring personal attention backed by top-notch physicians, world-class technology and the newest, most advanced diagnostic and treatment options available. Your healthcare team of highly trained physicians, nurses, technicians and administrators is determined and committed to improving the health and quality of life of those we serve.

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About Danbury Hospital

Danbury Hospital is a 371-bed regional medical center and university teaching hospital associated with the University of Vermont College of Medicine, the Yale University School of Medicine, the Connecticut School of Medicine and Columbia University Medical Center.  The hospital is nationally recognized as a tertiary health care center with an innovative high-tech, high-touch environment and is also a member of the Planetree organization. In addition to offering the latest robotic and minimally invasive surgical and imaging technology, it was the first hospital in Connecticut to adopt electronic health records systems. It offers a Level II Trauma Center and Level IIIb Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. Medical staff members are board-certified in their specialties, and most serve as faculty members of the nation’s finest university medical centers offering a higher level of experience. 

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