Orthopedic Patient Success Story

Robert Tash

Robert Tash picking orangesRobert Tash’s wife, Grace, calls her husband “Mr. Fixit.” He’s the man to call if you want a ceiling fan hung, a new door installed, or anything else that requires handyman skills.

Until a year ago, those tasks were nearly impossible for the 82-year-old St. Petersburg resident. Suffering from arthritis in his right shoulder and tears in his rotator cuff, Robert couldn’t raise his right arm over his head. Even small shoulder movements were painful.

The rotator cuff is a group of muscles and tendons in the shoulder that are used to lift the arm and maintain the joint’s stability. A damaged cuff can substantially restrict the ability to move the arm. It can also make the shoulder joint unstable, leading to arthritis -- a painful condition that occurs when a joint’s lubricating cartilage wears out, allowing bone to rub against bone.

Robert’s shoulder problems began nearly 20 years ago and became progressively worse over the years. Cortisone shots worked for a while. Then Robert turned to physical therapy. When that failed to ease his pain, Robert’s physician referred him to orthopedic surgeon Mark Frankle, M.D., of the Florida Orthopaedic Institute. Robert’s combination of arthritis and a torn rotator cuff presented a complex problem without a simple solution. Replacing his joint with a conventional prosthetic device would address the arthritic bones. But it would not fix his damaged rotator cuff.

The solution for Robert was implantation of a Reverse® Shoulder Prosthesis, a device invented by Dr. Frankle specifically to address this combination of shoulder conditions.

Made of metal and polyethylene, the Reverse® Shoulder Prosthesis doesn’t attempt to mimic the shoulder’s natural ball-and-socket anatomy, Dr. Frankle explains.

“Instead of looking like the joint, we reverse the way the joint looks. So the socket is where the ball normally is, and the ball is where the socket is. Doing that makes the joint more mechanically stable, so you can take advantage of the muscles that are still present and improve the patient’s comfort and function,” he says. In February, Robert underwent surgery at Tampa General Hospital to implant the new prosthesis. He went home two days later with his healing arm held immobile against his body by a Velcro strap. The biggest question on his mind – would this procedure really give him back the use of his arm?

Today, he answers that question with an enthusiastic “yes.” As proof, he shows a picture of himself waterskiing. The photo was taken this past October, eight months after the surgery and two weeks before his 82nd birthday. “Now I can do just about anything I want to do,” he says. “I can reach way up for the first time in many years and do things I couldn’t do before.”