Pickleball is a little bit ping-pong, a little bit tennis, and a whole lot of finesse, strategy, and quickness on your feet. It’s easy to find players at many fitness clubs and courts in the Quad Cities, and its popularity is mirrored across the U.S. Local pickleball players, like retired Deere executive and Augustana basketball alum, James Van De Casteele, enjoy the sport because it keeps them in great shape.
However, pickleball does require quickness in order to pivot and to move back and forth as well as side-to-side on the court — skills that James struggled with after enduring years of ankle pain.
Before his financial career at Deere, he enjoyed a successful athletic career at Alleman High School and Augustana College. He played basketball and baseball at both institutions. One of the high points of his early sports years was playing on the 1972-73 Augustana basketball team that placed third in the U.S. at the National Association Intercollegiate Athletics’ (NAIA) Division 3 tournament. (The NAIA actually predated the NCAA.)
Those years of athleticism and activity took its toll. “I had lots of ankle sprains, and the pain actually started many years ago,” he says.
“It got to the point, I couldn’t play pickleball or golf, and I couldn’t walk anymore.” A trip to Iowa City to explore a possible total ankle replacement proved futile, until he came to ORA Orthopedics. “I met with orthopedic foot and ankle surgeon, Dr. Michael Pyevich, who took another look at it. He and his staff reviewed my case, and we came up with a plan for an outpatient total ankle replacement. I told them I was ready and confident I could do it.”
Dr. Pyevich specializes in total ankle replacement surgeries. “We resurface the top of the ankle bone and the very bottom of the tibia or shin bone,” he said. “We then place a post into the shin bone for stability.
“The procedure provides the patient motion as well as more flexibility and functionality, so they can enjoy many active lifestyle activities.”
James was ready and motivated for success. “The surgery went according to plan. I spent the night at the Crow Valley Surgery Center and the care was really great. I was really nervous, but the ankle has responded well.”
At home the next day and for the next 10 weeks, James began his rehabilitation, gradually putting weight on his ankle. “I was walking fine after about two and a half months. Five months later, I was back on the pickleball court.
“The replacement actually allows you more flexibility than if the ankle was fused,” Jim continued. “I like to stay active in retirement and the surgery has allowed me to do what I enjoy. I really trusted Dr. Pyevich, and we were a good match.”