Total ankle replacement puts Bettendorf man back on the pickleball court

“It allows you more flexibility than if the ankle was fused,” said Jim Van De Casteele, 67, who is back to playing pickleball and golf after total a...


The Life Fitness Center is in a real pickle these days.  That's because they play pickleball in the gym nearly every morning.

It's where you'll find retired executive Jim Van De Casteele, 67.  The Bettendorf man plays doubles several times a week.

"Recently, in the last five years, I learned the game of pickleball, which is a lot of fun and great exercise," he said.

But ankle pain made playing impossible two years ago.  Jim turned to total ankle replacement surgery with ORA Orthopedics in Bettendorf in August 2016.

Dr. Michael Pyevich, ORA Orthopedics, performed the 90-minute surgery.

"We remove the top of the ankle bone and the very bottom of the shin bone," he said.  "We put this little post up into the shin bone for stability."

Like any major surgery, it took time to bounce back.  He spent six weeks off the ankle, then participated in physical therapy and walking sessions.  By the fourth month, he was playing pickleball again.

"It allows you more flexibility than if the ankle was fused," Jim continued.  "Because I'm active, and I wanted to be active, especially in retirement, that appealed to me."

"This will give you motion and more flexibility and functionality to do some active lifestyle things," Dr. Pyevich said.

These days, the right ankle is pain free.  The former Augustana College hoopster is back to shooting baskets and playing golf with improved mobility.

"I was really nervous," he remembered.  "It responded pretty well."

There's also a spring in his step on the pickleball court.  Jim is moving more confidently and back to an active lifestyle.

"I tried to go slow," he said.  "I didn't do any jumping.  I can't really run, but I can move a little bit back and forth. It worked out good, better than I thought it would."

Jim Van De Casteele is back in the game with a brand new ankle.