For years, Ben Brenner, a devoted husband, father of three and school counselor, endured the pain and limitations caused by a nearly two-inch length discrepancy between his left and right leg. The disproportioned length was caused by a car accident that shattered his left femur and damaged the growth plate in his left hip when he was 12 years old. From that time on, a section of Brenner’s leg stopped growing.
The ramifications resulting from the injury started as Brenner began hitting growth spurts. “I began noticing problems as early as high school while playing sports,” he says. “I couldn’t run as quickly, and my shins and back would hurt.”
When Brenner reached his late 20s, life was becoming even more challenging due to his condition. The everyday tasks of standing, walking and exercising caused significant hip and back pain. He also had difficulty finding comfortable shoes and often had to use orthotics. He decided that he had to find a solution. Brenner first saw a chiropractor and sought the advice of several physical therapists and orthopaedic doctors, but it wasn’t until he was referred to John Wyrick, MD, a UC Health orthopaedic surgeon at West Chester Hospital, director of the Division of Upper Extremity Surgery and Trauma, and professor of orthopaedic surgery for the UC College of Medicine, that Brenner was able to find hope for a real solution.
An expert in orthopaedic trauma and limb lengthening, Dr. Wyrick was confident that he could help Brenner. Dr. Wyrick first talked with Brenner about pursuing the traditional method of breaking and lengthening the bone using pins and a metal framework around the limb. However, Dr. Wyrick believed a newer, less-invasive procedure would be the better choice.
“This new technology allows us to insert an intramedullary nail, or implant, inside the bone once it is cut, then it is slowly pulled apart one millimeter each day,” states Dr. Wyrick. “Over time,
the bone lengthens and fills in. In addition, this procedure is better equipped to guide the bone into alignment as it grows.”
“It was the second most important thing I have ever done in my life,” Brenner says. “Of course, the first was marrying my wife,” he says smiling. Brenner experienced very little discomfort after the procedure and the results were miraculous. Only months after having the rod inserted, Brenner finished a 5K race, something he had been unable to achieve for nearly 10 years. The implant was removed in December 2015.
Today, the simple act of walking without pain has been an amazing change for Brenner. The biggest reward however; is that he is able to actively engage with his three young sons. “Every dad wants to be able to play with his children, and now I can,” Brenner says. “This procedure has changed the quality of my life tenfold and I couldn’t be more grateful.”