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Patient Stories


Tim Hart

Orthopedic Surgery Patient

After having intense shoulder pain and being unable to complete daily activities, Tim had orthopedic surgery at Summa Health and is back to having full strength in his shoulder.


Tim: I've been a general contractor for 25 years, primarily in drywall, and I just had constant strain and pain in my right shoulder. The pain got so intense I couldn't function in my daily activities.

My primary care doctor referred me to Dr. Urchek, an orthopedic surgeon with Summa. And after initial round of physical therapy, Dr. Urchek recommended a surgical procedure called a bicep tenodesis. They disconnect that bicep tendon, run it up through the middle of the shoulder and attach it to a different anchor point.

Dr. Urchek was amazing. Every time I talked to him, I felt like I was heard, like he understood my concerns. The procedure was extremely successful. And incredibly after 10 weeks, I was back to hanging drywall. In 11 weeks, I felt like I had full strength in my shoulder. To anyone with shoulder pain, I would say don't wait two years like I did. Go to Summa Orthopedics and at least get it checked out.


Nick Jack

Orthopedic Institute Patient

After shattering his wrist, Nick is back to playing guitar and, most importantly, taking care of his daughter.


Nick: We were in an awful car accident and I shattered my wrist completely. And I wanted to be in the care of Summa. So luckily they were able to get me in very quickly and I got the care that I needed and knew I would receive.

I was in the hands of Dr. Childs and he performed two major surgeries to reconstruct my wrist. At the time of the accident, I was a new dad and a musician and I wasn't able to care for my daughter at the time. And I wasn't able to play my guitar or anything like that. Thank goodness for my occupational therapist, Connie, she came up with a plan to really get use of my hand back. And she helped me with the emotional side of things. When you go through a big traumatic accident like that, she kind of kept me positive and focused.

Less than a year later, I'm back to playing guitar. And most importantly, taking care of my daughter, Lily, and I even wrote her a song. Couldn't wait to take you home. This love is stronger than anything we've known.


Camille McGowan

Orthopedic Surgery Patient

After years of knee pain, she was walking just a few hours after surgery.


Camille: I was having knee pain that it was so bad that I couldn't even stand at work. I had to go sit at my desk all the time and put my leg up on a chair because it was hurting so bad. My friend referred me to an orthopedic doctor, Dr. Combs and the Summa Health.

Dr. Cone said that I had bone-on-bone arthritis real bad that I needed to get in there and have surgery. I was so amazed by the surgery, I was up and walking in two to three hours.

I loved to cook, and in a week, I was back in the kitchen, cooking on my feet. Dr. Combs and his team was remarkable. I would recommend him to anybody. They would treat me just like if I was family. They were calling me every week to check on me to see how I was doing, that was wonderful. I love that, everything went so well that I am ready to go get the next knee done right away.


Nate Loman

Orthopedic Patient

Back on his bike a month sooner than expected


Nate: My passion in life is being an endurance athlete. At one cycling event, I had this freak accident and tore the side of my leg open down to the bone. My wound got infected and I wound up in the care of Summa in their ER.

From there, I came under the care of orthopedics with Dr. Miller and Dr. Childs. The infection was so bad, and they had to remove so much tissue that it left a silver dollar-size hole in my leg, Dr. Childs had to perform reconstructive surgery to close the wound site. I surely didn't know if I was ever gonna be able to ride a bike again. If I hadn't gotten that care when I did, I truly believe that I'd had a different outcome.

The final chapter has been working with Summa Physical Therapy Department. They have me back on a bike a month sooner than I ever expected. And quite frankly, I have Summa to thank for that.


Richard Wigfield

Orthopedic Patient

Was up and walking the very day after spine surgery


Richard: For over a year, the legs were getting so numb that if I didn't sit down, I would fall down. And I was really getting scared that I was heading for a wheelchair. I was doing some research and I found Dr. Inkrott, an orthopedic surgeon with Summa Health.

After we had an MRI done, Dr. Inkrott diagnosed me with spinal stenosis and a ruptured disc, and that was causing the numbness in my legs. He suggested a minimally invasive procedure that fuses the L4-L5. It only took three small incisions to do that procedure. They had me up and walking the very next day. I was very impressed with Dr. Inkrott. He's very straightforward, intelligent, and he's good in my book.

My numbness has gone. My legs work fine. I work around the house. I do my gardening like I like to do, and life is good.


James Barensfeld

Orthopedic Surgery Patient

Walked out of the hospital just 12 hours after a total hip replacement


James: I'm very athletic. I play a lot of hockey at a very high level. My hip was really causing me a lot of pain, and it was really affecting my game, and I couldn't even sleep. I knew it was time to get that hip fixed. A few of my athletic friends recommended Dr. Pfefferle at Summa Health.

For my first appointment, he was so reassuring, and gave me all my options. Dr. Pfefferle recommended total hip replacement, and he was right on the money. I had the anterior hip procedure, and I was in and out of the hospital in twelve hours, and I walked out of the hospital.

I was back to normal activities so darn quick I couldn't believe it. In fact, Dr. P. told me I was his poster child for total hip replacement. Clearly I hitched my horse to a fantastic cart with Dr. P. and the team at Barberton Orthopedics. I was back on the ice in twelve weeks, and you know what, I'm skating better than I have in years.


James Wright

Orthopedic Patient

With two new hips, he feels like a teenager again


James: I'm a really active guy and I love doing projects, especially gardening and projects around the house. My hip pain became so severe, it was though an icepick was going through my hip. My primary care doctor at Summa referred me to Dr. Ryan Combs, who's an orthopedic surgeon.

Dr. Combs discovered that I had no cartilage left and he determined it was best for me to go ahead with a hip replacement surgery. Dr. Combs and his team made me feel more like a friend than a patient. It was very powerful, actually. It was emotional really for me. He understood what I was going through and he would be able to help me. First hip replacement was so good and I was so comfortable, I decided to move forward with the second hip replacement within three months.

Now with two new hips, it's as though I'm a teenager again. I love gardening and it's just wonderful to know that now I can do it without pain. I'm just so happy that I did it and I tell my wife that all the time. I'm so happy.


Dave Pence

Orthopedic Surgery Patient

Being back in the game with his grandkids is his best win


Dave: I'm an extremely active person and my knees were getting so bad, my legs were so bowed that I couldn't do the activities that I love to do. Playing and running with my grandkids, playing the game that I love of baseball. And I didn't want to live life like that. I actually played baseball with Dr. Scott Weiner from Summa Health and during one of the ball games he looked at me and said, "We can actually fix that for you." Dr. Weiner referred me to Dr. Pfefferle and he said, "You are a bone on bone, and we need to replace those knees."

My surgery was done at Summa Barberton. The care and the nurses there were unbelievable. One of the things that Dr. Pfefferle uses is a pain ball instead of narcotics, which really helped to ease a lot of my pain.

I'm back playing baseball. In fact, we won the championship, but the biggest win of all is I'm now able to run and play and chase my grandkids. That's the best thing in the whole wide world.


Barbara Vassalotti

Back on her feet – pain free – thanks to the Orthopedic Institute


Barbara: For years, I had this bunion on my foot, and it kept growing, and growing, and it started to hurt, and slow me down. I decided to call Dr. Junko at Summa Health, and he decided it needed to be removed.

Dr. Junko was a miracle worker. He performed the surgery and corrected the toe. In fact, they gave me the pain ball, which was really a numbing agent that went directly to the foot. It was so effective I never had to take any narcotics. The treatment I had at Summa Barberton was superlative.

Now that I've had this procedure, I'm really looking forward to a vacation! Where I can hike, walk on the beach, ride a horse if I want to, just enjoy myself. Be out there.


Debbie Charles

Living (and sleeping) well after same-day orthopedic surgeries


Debbie: The numbness in my hands was just... unbearable. It would wake me up in the middle of the night, and I wasn't able to type, for my job.

A friend of mine recommended Dr. Klaus at Summa. And he determined it was carpal tunnel. So, I had a surgery on my right hand. And then four weeks later, I had my left hand done. And the numbness was gone immediately.

And then my shoulder started hurting, so he had an MRI done. It showed a complete tear on my rotator cuff. So, Dr. Klaus was to my rescue again and he did surgery on a repair for my rotator cuff.

All of my procedures were done out at the Wadsworth, Same Day Surgery Care. And the facility was wonderful.

Now after all my procedures, I'm able to do things. I can cook, I can type, I can sleep at night without pain! It hasn't fixed my bad typing, but at least there's no pain anymore. And I can type!


David Allan

Pain free after knee replacement surgery


David: When I was younger, I had a football injury. I kept ignoring it and ignoring it. Pain kept getting worse, worse. It got to the point that I was in so much pain that I could hardly sit on the couch without literally crying.

I ended up at Summa Health and met Dr. Pfefferle. He recommended total knee replacement on my right knee.

The staff at Summa Barberton, where I had my surgery, was unbelievable. I can't say enough about them, they're five star.

The kind of person Dr. Pfefferle is you would consider him one of your family. There are doctors you like, I love Dr. Pfefferle.

As far as the pain goes, I had a nerve block, a pain ball, and eventually, it's going to be a narcotic-free surgery.

Ten months after surgery, I can ride my bike, I can play basketball, I walk my dog, I walk 10,000 plus steps a day. It's unbelievable.


Marilyn Gordon

"There’s no stopping these knees now!"


Marilyn: The arthritis pain in my knees was just so bad I couldn't do the simple things you do in daily life, walking up stairs, taking my dog for a walk, getting out of bed in the morning.

My arthritis doctor referred me to Dr. Pfefferle at Summa Health. When he saw the x-rays, he recommended that I get a bilateral knee replacement, which means on both knees.

Another innovation at Summa was these pain balls that they used to decrease taking narcotic pain medicine. It works. I was home within a week. Ready to go back to work.

I'm taking my dog for a walk up and down the street. It's like he put the Energizer Bunny in my knees.

Thanks to Dr. Pfefferle there's no stopping these knees now! He's great.


Deanna Hastings

Ready for her future with new knees


Deanna: I wanted to be able to hike pain-free, and I wanted to be to chase my grandson without any pain, so I needed some new knees. So I turned to Summa Health for a knee replacement surgery.

Dr. Pfefferle sat with me and he wanted to know what my goals were with my new knees.

I had my first full knee replacement done, and it went so well I had the second one done three months later, and I went home the same day. And they've never been better.

I had a wonderful therapist, Thomas. He knew I loved to be outside, and we went hiking together.

Getting my knees replaced helped me to accomplish what I wanted to do now and what I'm gonna want to do in the next thirty years. I can go hiking and chase my grandson, and now I have a new granddaughter, and I'll be able to chase her too.

Because there is no pain, I'm gonna plan more hiking trips, and the grandkids and my husband are all going to have a hard time keeping up with me.


Mary Nemec

Returned to an active life after total hip replacement


Mary: I'm a very, very active woman. I power walk five miles a day. And it finally kind of caught up to me, and I was feeling pain in my groin. That's when I decided I need to do something and go see Dr. Shah at Summa.

I was diagnosed with an arthritic hip and had to have a hip replacement.

Dr. Pfefferle assured me that I could get back to my lifestyle that I was used to for the last 25 years. And he would tell me, Mary, you have any problems, you call me.

I could barely walk in the hospital the day of my surgery. 36 hours later, I walked out all by myself.

Just two months after my total hip replacement, I was back to walking five miles a day. And it was not only good for me physically, but it was really good for me mentally.

Now that I'm pain free, I can keep up with my seven grandchildren.


Dan Pohly

Trauma results in life-saving orthopedic surgeries and a life-long friendship


Dan: Two things my wife said not to do. One is to run a chainsaw when she is not at home. And the other is to go on the roof. I went on the roof, but I didn't have my chainsaw running, so I thought I was ok.

I carried the wooden ladder up onto the second level and put it up to the next roof. Carry my blower up. As I'm climbing up onto the second roof, the legs of the wooden ladder came out. I fall backwards, I hit the first roof, bounce, came down, hit my sidewalk and part of my flower bed, and ended up rolling over to here.

So this is where I lay wondering what I'm going to do. Look at myself, and started calling for help. Eventually did get up on my left knee, and I managed with pushing with my elbow to get up onto my right knee. And when I got there I fell over again. Later I find out both bones in both arms and my hip that was broken.

We got down and taken down to meet the doctor for surgery. It was Dr. Derek Klaus, and I can't say enough about Dr. Derek Klaus. He had this ability to explain my injuries to me in a way that even I could understand.

Dr. Klaus: All I knew about him at the time is that he had fallen two stories off a roof, and broken both of his wrists and his hip. Not all wrist breaks need fixed, but one was worse than the other so we just talked about if we fixed just one side, it will improve his alignment and function a little quicker. The other side I didn't think it was worth the risk to put him through. I thought we could treat him with a cast. The full hip replacement is typically an excellent option for people like himself: very active, young. And we had a very frank discussion about that. Right after that I got on the phone, called Dr. Pfefferle, that really is his area of expertise, and it was a Saturday morning, he was not on call.

Dr. Pfefferle: When my colleagues called me and asked for help for certain things, I put down what we were doing, and gone in to help the patient. Given the nature of Dan's fracture, we wanted to get him up and walking as soon as possible. And the thought to be able to do two surgeries under one anesthesia and not having to go back and forth through multiple surgeries was very attractive, especially for a very young, healthy guy we could get him up and walking.

Dan: I had surgery on Saturday. They put me up walking on Sunday, and the therapist said can you walk to the door, and I said, can I keep going? He says yeah if you want. So I walked down there and took about a 45 minute walk. This is my full time job, I got to get better.

At Hartville Hardware, my daughter and I have put things online. So we sell things online for the business. We've built a new warehouse actually as the business has grown and done well. I've been blessed by just the friendships there. And people that have reached out.

Dr. Pfefferle: Dan has done exceptional from day one. The day of surgery, the nurses were holding him back he was doing loops in the nurses station walking around. I think that it contributes to Dan's personality and nothing is going to slow him down. He has done phenomenal.

Dan: The pieces parts were put in proper so I could get going and without pain as I told you. No pain meds at all after the surgery, it went so well.

Dr. Klaus: He's so cheerful and so happy that he has such a big smile on his face every time he came in. I looked forward to seeing him. Half the time we talked for 20 minutes and then we said, oh that's right, let's look at your wrist, let's look at the x-rays. Because it was like catching up.

Dan: They're my doctors, but they are my friends. And I have just appreciated every moment I've had with them.


Kim Schilling

Minimally invasive Tenex procedure keeps her crocheting


Kim: I was having so much elbow pain, I could not do the things I wanted to do anymore. My favorite thing is crocheting. I couldn't do it. So I decided I needed to go to Summa.

Dr. Burkam recommended the Tenex procedure. It's a minimally invasive procedure where they use a pen-like instrument along with ultrasound to go into my elbow and break up whatever is causing the pain. Which in my case was two bone spurs.

Life for me now is much better. I can use my elbow, and I can do my favorite thing which is crocheting.

Dr. Burkam is a very kind man. Not only was he concerned with my elbow, he would compliment me on, "your hair looks nice today." And I was able to relax around him because of that.

I was so grateful to Dr. Burkam, I crocheted a set of coasters for him to prove to him that his procedure did work on my elbow.


Kay Cooper

Dancing without arthritis pain after foot surgery


Kay: I'm a pretty active person. I play golf. I do aerobics. I do yoga. The arthritis pain in my big toe was stopping me from doing the things that I wanted to do.

My hairdresser, who had exactly the same arthritis condition in her toe, referred me to Dr. Junko at Summa Health. He suggested surgery to correct the arthritic condition.

Dr. Junko was amazing and the staff at Summa Barberton was exceptional.

The pain for me was minimal. They gave me a pain block that lasted 36 hours and then a pain pump.

Life now after surgery, I'm back to power walking, aerobics classes, and best of all, at my high school reunion last weekend, I actually danced.


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