Foot and Ankle Injury After Waterskiing Accident

After a water skiing accident, Jeff Turned to the Orthopedic Experts at Aurora Health Care

Jeff Lee and Robert Siepel, MD, discuss treatment of a water skiing injury that damaged Jeff's feet and ankles.

For Jeff Lee, water skiing was a natural as walking. He learned how to water ski as a child and now performs with a water ski club. So when an injury threatened his ability to participate in one of his favorite activities, he sought out the orthopedic experts at Aurora Health Care.

It was a simple turn that almost caused his lifelong water skiing career to come crashing down. Jeff was water skiing while vacationing in Florida. “I caught an edge wrong during a turn,” he recalls. He flipped over a total of three times and hit the water at 34 miles an hour.

“My ankles bent completely backwards,” Jeff says. “I knew it wasn’t good.”

Orthopedic Specialists He Could Trust

At first, Jeff thought he could shake it off. “I moved my ankle back and forth, but it was popping in and out.” He went to a nearby hospital in Florida, where doctors confirmed one ankle was broken. “My left ankle was sprained pretty badly,” Jeff says. “My right ankle was broken on the inside.” He was given a splint cast, an air cast and crutches and sent on his way.

As he waited for friends to pick him up, Jeff wondered what to do next. “I just thought, ‘I cannot believe I’ve done this.’ But then I thought I need to work through this.” He thought about options for care.

While Jeff could have continued care in Florida, “I wanted to come back to a reputable hospital in a community I know.” He thought of an accquaintaince he had made through water skiing back home, Robert Siepel, MD, an orthopedic surgeon at Aurora Medical Center in Summit. He sent a quick text – and immediately his care began to change.

“Dr. Siepel and I traded phone calls, emails and texts,” Jeff says. “I sent him pictures of my X-rays from my cell phone.”

From the pictures, “I was able to tell right away that it required surgery,” says Dr. Siepel. It was clear to him that part of Jeff’s ankle was broken. “The medial malleolus was displaced and needed to be fixed internally.”

A medial malleolus fracture often occurs during a rolled ankle or an awkward landing from a jump or fall, when a lot of weight is put on the area. In Jeff’s case, from his water skiing accident. Dr. Siepel advised Jeff to act quickly, to ensure the best outcome.

“He told me about treatment options and offered options for doctors,” Jeff says. “I decided to go with him.” The next day, Jeff flew back home to Wisconsin and his community hospital – Aurora Health Care in Summit.

Jeff's Quick Recovery

Foot and Ankle Orthopedic Services

Aurora provides a wide range of treatments for foot and ankle injuries, including surgical and rehabilitation services. Find out more about the full range of our foot and ankle orthopedic services.

Once Jeff was back in Wisconsin, treatment progressed rapidly.

“I first learned of the injury on Saturday,” says Dr. Siepel. “On Tuesday I saw Jeff in the clinic, and on Wednesday he had surgery.”

Although treatment moved fast, the team made sure to keep Jeff informed. “There was great communication. I even spoke with the anesthesiologist prior to the surgery,” Jeff says. “That, along with everything else, really built my confidence.”

During surgery, Dr. Siepel used screws to pin Jeff’s ankle together. After surgery, he was to wear a post-op boot, and had instructions for physical therapy.

“I felt his prognosis was really good,” says Dr. Siepel. “I knew he was going to be motivated.” Still, Jeff had instructions to not bear full weight on his ankle. He also had to attend nine weeks of physical rehab at Aurora Health Care in Summit.

Jeff says his transition from surgery to rehab was “seamless.” He was pleased to have rehab facilities at the same center where he had his surgery and happy with the staff.

“I wanted to get back to back to my normal routines quickly. The rehab staff worked with me to help me reach my goals.” Within only nine weeks, Jeff was back to his daily routines – which include water skiing.

Back on the Water

foot and ankle orthopedic surgeryToday, “I’m 95 percent [recovered],” Jeff says. “I’m back on the water and it feels great.”

Dr. Siepel is pleased with Jeff’s recovery and says he should have no problem with water skiing or any sports he loves. “Two screws remain in his ankle,” Dr. Siepel says. “I don’t foresee a lot of ongoing care.”

Jeff is glad to be practicing with his club again, and looks forward to many more years of water skiing – and performing – thanks to the excellent orthopedic care he received from Dr. Siepel and the team at Aurora Health Care in Summit.

“I have an absolute blast skiing and I’m glad to be back. I’m very happy with everyone at Aurora who worked with me to get me here,” Jeff says. “It was a very good experience all around.”