Orthologix® Super Star: Gioanna Marie Romano

The first day of school for any high school student is exciting yet somewhat mundane. For 17-year-old Gioanna Marie Romano, the first day of high school was an amazing milestone some thought she might never reach.

June 27, 2010, was a busy Sunday for Gioanna and her mom, Elizabeth. Errands and preparing for a family pool party brought them to a shopping center and a parking lot and a moment that changed their lives permanently.

A confused elderly driver hit Gioanna twice - throwing her into the air and then pinning her body against a wall. Her injuries were severe: her left leg severed above the knee, serious skin, tissue, and muscle damage to her right leg, a broken pelvis, tailbone and extremely critical internal injuries. According to her mom, Gioanna 'coded' multiple times that first night and the doctors worked hard to "put her back together."

And they succeeded.

Gioanna woke up about ten days after the accident. Her mom and dad by her side, they explained to her what had happened. "She cried for about an hour after we told her everything," Elizabeth said. "Then she said to us, 'How do I get out of this bed?'"

It's that spirit and motivation that brought Gioanna walking to the door of her high school this year - her determination, along with the help of the skilled practitioners at Orthologix.

Gioanna was referred to Orthologix by her physical therapist. Her body healed slowly from the tremendous trauma it sustained and it was quite a while after the accident that she was able to bear any weight on her pelvis. At that time, she was introduced to John Izak, CPO, Jeff Shaw, CP, and Kacy Powers, CO, the team that got her up and about!

Because she sustained injuries to both of her legs, Gioanna is an orthotic and a prosthetic patient with practice. For her bracing needs, she works with Kacy to address her right ankle instability, tight heel cord, and resulting extreme loss of range of motion and flexion. According to Kacy, Gioanna constantly battles tightness in her Achilles. Yet, with all these concerns, "She always has a smile on her face," Kacy reports.

Kacy has fit Gioanna with a right articulating AFO, which she wears when ambulating. For sleeping she wears a right Nighttime ROM AFO. "She is a pleasant and hardworking young woman who is eager and energetic," Kacy said. When things get tough, she is usually the one keeping everyone else positive, according to her orthotist.

For her amputated side, Gioanna works with prosthetist Jeff Shaw. Jeff and Gioanna have a great rapport and frequently share jokes. "She is a great girl and she's really determined!" he said.

Because Gioanna had several skin grafts on her residual limb, her skin is a concern for Jeff when fitting her prosthesis. He began by recommending a gel liner with a lanyard and a locking knee leg to get Gioanna started. Once she mastered ambulating, Jeff fit her with a definitive prosthesis, which includes a custom fabricated in blue acrylic socket with a flexible inner sealing liner with suction valve. She wears an Ossur Mauch Knee with a Flex Foot.

"Gioanna is a complex case," Jeff said. "But she does well with her prosthesis. She is growing now so I've seen her lately to make adjustments to her leg because of her new height."

According to her mom, Jeff and Gioanna also have a set goal for the spring of 2014. "She wants to wear heels to senior prom!" Elizabeth said. Jeff, Kacy, and Gioanna will work together to make that happen.

Gioanna has other goals too: to wear jeans, to swim, to take her dog for a walk. All things other teens may take for granted are items listed on the to do list of a girl who was told she might never walk again. With the help of the Orthologix team, Elizabeth expects she'll do it all.

"The whole organization is awesome!" she said. "They go over and beyond what I expect from them."

She added, "Gioanna wants them to be proud of her and they are always looking for new things that will make it easier for her to get around."

She is also impressed by how they ask for Gioanna's and her input on things. "We are blessed that everyone who has taken care of her has been all about Gioanna," Elizabeth added "Jeff is so good at what he does and I am grateful for everything he and Kacy do for her. They're always concerned to help us out!"


For more information on our orthotic or prosthetic services, contact us: ORTHOLOGIX® // 2655 Interplex Drive, Suite 101 // Trevose, PA 19053 // Phone: (800) 659-9755