|Following double shoulder replacement surgery, Howard Apley of Sunderland, Mass., is back at the keyboard.
Sitting before a grand piano, Sunderland resident Howard Apley is in his element.
His fingers move effortlessly about the keys, classical melodies flowing from the majestic instrument he’s played since childhood.
Though nimble hands may seem the most obvious physical requirement for mastering the piano, Apley makes an eye-opening quip as he plays: “Nothing requires more shoulder rolling than this does.”
It’s a truth Apley had discovered firsthand, when arthritis pain developed in both shoulders and gradually worsened over several years. “I began to play more music with a reduced octave range,” he noted, explaining that his arms could no longer span the piano’s full width without pain.
He had to give up his other beloved hobby — biking — altogether, and had trouble with even basic tasks. “Putting on a shirt was rather unpleasant,” he recalled. “I tried cortisone injections with limited success and survived mainly through large doses of ibuprofen.”
Surgery Restores Daily Melodies
After having thought about joint replacement surgery “for quite a while,” Apley learned about Jonathan Fallon, DO, chief of orthopedics at Cooley Dickinson Hospital and a shoulder surgery specialist, in early 2012.
Jonathan Kurtis, MD, a fellow surgeon at Cooley Dickinson Medical Group Orthopedics & Sports Medicine, had treated Apley in the past and recommended his colleague. “It was only when I discovered Dr. Fallon that I was ready to go ahead [with the surgery]," Apley said. “Not only did I learn of his excellent reputation as a surgeon, but he’s also a decent fellow. You can talk to him.”
Surgery Makes a Difference
That April, Fallon gave Howard Apley a new left shoulder joint. Experiencing the incredible difference the surgery had made, Apley returned to Fallon in October 2012 for replacement of the right shoulder. Following a recovery period that involved regular physical therapy and “doing my exercises faithfully at home,” Apley resumed the full, active life he had long missed.
For Howard Apley, that full life means access to a full range of octaves.
With all 88 keys back within comfortable reach, the accomplished pianist has happily restored variety to his musical repertoire — and to each day. “I now have no limitations,” Apley says of life after joint replacement. “This made all things possible."