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Former Gator Football Player Receives INBONE Total Ankle Replacement

A normal life with full mobility wasn’t included in Dock Luckie’s future plans after hurting his ankle, but as soon as he met Dr. Rull James Toussaint, he regained hope.

Luckie, a 61-year-old former police officer in Fort Pierce, was always admired for his athletic abilities, starting with his track skills in high school and continuing with his collegiate football career as a Florida Gator at UF. Eventually, Luckie made it all the way to the National Football League and was drafted by the Kansas City Chiefs. In addition to his football prowess, Luckie was a weightlifter and is known for breaking the bench pressing world record.

“I started focusing on lifting weights and next thing I knew, there I was leg-pressing 1800 lbs and bench-pressing roughly 700 lbs,” explained Luckie.

Throughout his football career, Luckie suffered from an ankle injury, enduring the pain and suffering for 20 years. Luckie said in 1980, when he was playing football at UF, he got hit right between the joints of his ankle and he developed a stretch crack that continued to worsen over time.

“I used a lot of ibuprofen and received several shots directly where the pain was and that’s how I was able to function,” Luckie said. “It was just a temporary fix.”

After meeting with doctors who wanted to fuse his ankle bones, Luckie then met with Dr. Rull James Toussaint, a Gainesville orthopaedic surgeon. Instead of ankle surgery, Toussaint was able to give Luckie an INBONE Total Ankle Replacement procedure, a modernized form of an ankle procedure that, unlike a common ankle fusion procedure, provides the luxury of mobility. Toussaint said total ankle replacement involves removing the joint surface from the ankle and then replacing that joint surface with an artificial device that has a motion segment so the foot can move up and down, providing mobility while simultaneously alleviating any bone-on-bone arthritis.

“The ankle replacement between the two bones to help with the motion,” Toussaint said. “For a lot of people, that is life-changing.”

As much as Luckie wanted to fix the pain in his ankle, he also wanted to wait as long as possible for a modern procedure instead of receiving a fusion.

“The problem with the fusion is you essentially have a permanent limb,” Toussaint said. “Although it’s durable, you can never get that type of stride back.”

After examining Luckie’s x-rays, Dr. Toussaint noticed that Luckie had significant arthritis, so they decided on an INBONE Total Ankle Replacement for Luckie. According to Toussaint, this specific ankle replacement procedure is stable and replicable. Toussaint said he knew he would be able to perform the surgery as planned and expected.

Luckie received the surgery, a procedure an hour and a half in duration, in March 2019. According to Toussaint, there are different trials done during surgery to find the size of the total ankle replacement.

“Once the size is confirmed, the replacement is put in and the wounds are sutured up.” Toussaint said.

A patient is typically put into a splint after a total ankle replacement procedure. Once the wounds heal, usually after two weeks, the splint is removed and the patient then gets fitted for a boot so he or she can begin walking. With the help of physical therapy, Luckie gained mobility in his foot.

After his surgery, Luckie’s goal was to walk around Disney Springs for his birthday.

“When I got to Disney Springs, I walked four miles with my brand new ankle and no pain,” Luckie said. “I was so excited that I called Dr. Toussaint right away.”

Before surgery, going on a walk was burdensome for Luckie, and he never expected that to change. Two years later, Luckie remains active and enjoys activities like dancing, biking, snow skiing, swimming, and walking on the treadmill.

“If I had known several years ago about Dr. Toussaint, I would have gone for surgery a long time ago,” Luckie said.

Luckie spent years tossing and turning at night, dealing with the frustrations of chronic pain.

“I just waited and waited because I knew one day there was going to be a breakthrough and that breakthrough was Dr. Toussaint because he gave me the will to walk again,” Luckie said.

Jolie is a reporter for WUFT News who can be reached by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing news@wuft.org.