Friday, October 05, 2018

emBRACING my Orthotist, the INVENTOR

Robert Drillio: I N V E N T O R

INNOVATOR. Bob is a leader in his field, never settling for status quo.

NON-CONFORMIST. Bob is a maverick in his creativity of O&P

VISIONARY. Bob is a creative thinker who stretches the boundaries.

EDJUCATOR. Bob not only mentors his staff but imparts his wisdom to his patients.

NONPAREIL. Bob is without peer in his approach to perfecting his craft.

TRAILBLAZER. Bob has paved new paths in the O&P field.

OPTIMIST. Bob consistently looks for the positives. Failure is not an option.

RESOLVER. Bob sees a problem and sets in motion a way to improve and correct it.

“You will walk again.” This is what Bob said to me nearly 20 years ago when I met him after suffering a paralyzing hemorrhagic stroke. Bob was the first person to dangle the carrot of 'hope' for me to regain my independence.

Since our initial meeting in 1997 for the fitting of my first AFO, I have had probably 30 plus braces, all casted, fitted and made by Bob. Throughout my ordeal, I have been plagued by tone, spasticity, proprioception, and left-sided weakness, but under Bob’s care, I have powered through, always progressing.

“I don't want a brace that supports me, I want a brace that will make me better.” Bob understood this drive in me and not only matched it but nurtured that spirit by progressing with me in his brace design.

I think of words that characterize Bob, words such as passionate, dedicated, compassionate, committed and, yes, genius. The adage holds true: look them up in the dictionary and there’s Bob’s picture. Bob never stops working, although he is quick to say, “It’s not work, it’s my passion.” Bob is overwhelmingly enthusiastic in his passion to get people functional again, and his enthusiasm is contagious. You could even say he is obsessed with his profession. Bob has no off switch, he is always observing and analyzing how to make his patients better.

Walk into his office and Bob is on alert, observing and studying your gait to see what he can adjust and tweak to improve your comfort level and functionality. Since its inception, the IAM Rocker Walker has gone through many variations, and I know Bob will continue to revise and hone his invention over its lifetime. Bob recently told me that the next brace will be made with a special plastic that is much stronger. He is open to suggestions and often tells me to try to break the brace in my normal activities to expose any weaknesses.

Our relationship has lasted longer than some marriages; it transcends care provider and patient to where he is my confidant and friend. 
Bob and I have a shared goal of having me run someday, which has us both evolving into new orthotic territory. While developing the IAM Rocker Walker©, Bob created a series of braces; making improvements each time to hone his vision of a normal gait. His IAM Rocker Walker© gives me a more natural gait and allows me to walk purposefully.

Because of our history, I always felt I was Bob's special patient, but in seeing him interact with others, I quickly learned that this is how he engages with each patient, treating them as unique and special.

"Will this brace give me the ability to run again?" His empowering response, "Eventually, but start on grass first." I know that under Bob’s care and wearing his ingenious brace, I will run again, perhaps eventually hitting the pavement in stride with my fellow rehabilitation compatriots.