"Not everyone can stand up for themselves with equal confidence. That should not determine the quality of their care."

Artificial discs have been in use around the world for over a decade

 

Frank

Frank is the founder of Guardian. He isn't a client but his story is much like that of many clients. It was also his first experience acting as a patient advocate - for himself.

In 2009 Frank, 40 and healthy, discovered two herniated discs in his neck. The first doctor with whom Frank consulted said he had cervical degenerative disc disease and nothing could be done to correct it. A second spine surgeon recommended physical therapy. The third doctor was the head of a prestigious university center. He recommended permanently fusing three vertebrae in Frank's neck which would have severely limited his ability to turn his head.

Although Frank received physical therapy as instructed his conditioned worsened with noticeable loss of sensation and strength in both arms.

Frank felt instinctively that there had to be a better treatment. He set out to learn about his condition and soon discovered that there was in fact a modern solution - artificial intervertebral discs, a device designed to mimic the natural discs between the vertebrae of the spine. An artificial disc replaces the damaged natural disc and restores the space between the vertebrae alleviating nerve compression while preserving mobility and flexibility. Although artificial discs had been proven more effective than fusion the FDA resisted approving them while the rest of the world enjoyed their benefits. This made it difficult to find a surgeon in the US with experience using them.

He continued searching, learning, and meeting with doctors as his condition worsened. Frank's persistence finally paid off. He met Dr. Robert Masson, an orthopedic surgeon at the NeuroSpine Institute of Orlando Florida. Dr. Masson had extensive experience performing artificial disc replacement. By this point Frank had developed a third disc herniation.  Dr. Masson performed a three-level anterior cervical discectomy and disc replacement using the Prodisc-C.  Within an hour of the surgery Frank was on his feet, pain free, with feeling in his hands restored. He could easily turn his head completely in any direction. A week later Frank was lifting weights at the gym and has remained symptom free ever since. That's the real solution he knew had to be out there.

Now Frank found himself receiving requests for help and information from friends, coworkers, and strangers who knew a friend or family member with debilitating neck or back pain. They all had one thing in common. They had been told by their doctor that nothing could be done aside from taking pain medication or they were disappointed by the results of spinal fusion surgery. It was astonishing to discover that in this country so many people suffered unnecessarily. Frank knew it was possible to change that. He ultimately became a private patient advocate and opened Guardian Private Patient Advocate.

 

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