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When Dr. Sanjay Jha, CEO of Motorola mobility headed to his gym to get some exercise, it had been 15 years since he hit a squash ball.

The 45-year-old was fit from years of running the hills around his home in San Diego, but one low swing and he heard a popping sound that he thought was the ball ricocheting off the wall. A week later, the pain in his heel told him differently. A colleague urged him to see Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital’s Anand Vora, MD, the foot and ankle surgeon who had repaired his wife’s Achilles’ tendon injury.

New Therapy For A Common Adult Injury

According to Dr. Vora, the torn Achilles tendon is most common in older athletes who may be active, but no longer perform daily athletics—the “weekend warrior” injuries. A sudden acceleration or deceleration off the floor can tear the largest tendon in the body: “Just like the Greek hero Achilles—the strongest Trojan warrior—the Achilles tendon is the strongest tendon in the body. It is pivotal to all motions of the feet, legs and necessary for a normal gait.” Jha had incurred a “horsetail” tendon rupture in which the tendon is frayed, an injury that often benefits from surgical repair. The standard of care, says Dr. Vora, is a one-hour surgery; recovery is typically two weeks in a hard cast, two weeks in a soft case, four to eight weeks in a removal boot and three months of physical therapy. This surgery, as well as similar foot and ankle surgeries, have been advanced at Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital by using a specialized anesthetic technique, enabling the procedure to be performed under a nerve block and sedation only. This approach avoids the need for the traditional, general anesthetic used at other medical centers.

In Jha’s case, Dr. Vora also used a new therapy known as platelet-rich plasma (PRP), a new biologic technique that is becoming a popular therapy in the healing of tissues. (See sidebar story.) The injection of PRP may have helped Jha recover more quickly—he was up walking in four weeks and after three months could resume normal exercise.

“The first thing I did was to read a lot of blogs on the recovery time for the surgery,” said Jha. “And many of them indicated a much longer time.” Then he began a friendly competition with a California neighbor who had surgery for an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tear in her knee the same month, to see who would recover faster.

Playing Hard, Working Hard

Growing up in India, Jha loved competitive sports. He was the bowler on his cricket team, practiced karate and played squash. Today, when he’s not at his Libertyville headquarters or traveling the globe for business, he commutes to and from his family home in San Diego where he and wife are avid runners. His three sons are also athletes; one son even takes his lacrosse stick to bed each night.

The son of two doctors, Jha earned an engineering undergraduate degree from the University of Liverpool and a PhD in electronic and electrical engineering from the University of Strathclyde in Scotland; he says, “I just loved to build things when I was growing up.” In late October, he was credited with bringing the Droid phone to market, which helped Motorola’s mobile device division post its first positive earnings in three years. He promptly took his team out to dinner to celebrate.

Jha is an admitted workaholic (his staff jokingly took up a collection to have him travel home more often to reduce the evening meetings he was calling). But he adheres to the corporate mantra that exercise is important for employee health, and he supports wellness programs offered to staff at the company. In researching consumer trends, his company has also identified that Americans fall into three categories of athletes: “fitness seekers,” those who want to be fit, “committed exercisers” those who regularly exercise, and “elites” those who are dedicated or professionals. He wants to deliver products and services that meet the needs of modern lifestyles.

As he posed on one leg to show off his heel strength, Jha recalled his positive experiences at Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital: “It was just great. You know, it was all the simple things. The surgery was on time. I was out quickly. The care was wonderful. Everything worked.” And not surprisingly, “working well” sits high on the list for the engineer who leads one of the world’s most prominent technology companies.

source: Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital Health Report

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