April 23, 2013 5:32 pm
Updated: April 23, 2013 6:38 pm

Device developed by NASA helps local woman

Dr. Carrie Kollias (left) discusses the Taylor Spatial Frame that helped straighten Nahid Zafari's (right) leg.


Patients suffering from severe skeletal problems may have new hope at Chinook Regional Hospital.

The hospital announced a new surgical technique to help suffering patients walk without pain.

The device, a Taylor Spatial Frame, was developed by Dr. Charles Taylor and physicists at NASA to help people suffering from bowed legs or limbs of different lengths.

Nahid Zafari is the first patient to undergo this surgical procedure at Chinook Regional Hospital and said the surgery means more to her than just a physical adjustment

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“It was so difficult for me to walk through the university, through shopping.  Most people were looking at my knee, and they were like ‘Oh, nothing happened, nothing’s strange’, but I could feel their feeling and their eyes,” said Zafari.  “I don’t care how much pain I have to have, I’m going to have the second surgery too. I don’t care about the pain.”

Orthopedic surgeon Dr. Carrie Kollias specializes in this new surgical technique.  She and a team of local specialists worked to make straightening Zafari’s right leg possible.

“How rewarding is it? It’s very rewarding, but there’s a lot of effort that goes into it,” said Dr. Kollias.

“Just from the assessment, the planning, the surgery, to the post-op care.  So I think because you put so much effort and time and planning into it, by nature it would be more rewarding.”

Zafari had the surgery on February 15th, and the device is scheduled to be removed sometime in May.  Zafari came to Canada from Iran in 2008 to attend school in Lethbridge.  The device is installed to slowly adjust the bone or to straighten it by 18 degrees in Zafari’s case.

And while the frame hasn’t been removed yet, Zafari says she plans to have the surgery on her other leg as soon as possible.

“Like a normal girl.  I just want to be like a normal girl,” Zafari said. She added her dream is to “just walk and wear high heels and skinny jeans just like other girls.”

The Taylor Spatial Frame allows patients 6 degrees of freedom during recovery.  Patients can rotate, lengthen and shorten in the knee and ankle while the device slowly realigns the bone. Chinook Regional Hospital said they have to special order the device once a patient is approved for the surgery.

Dr. Kollias added there are a number of patients who have expressed an interest in the surgery.  However she said each patient is different and each case must be assessed on an individual basis.

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