Raymond J. Walls, MD, is an orthopaedic foot and ankle surgeon who has successfully treated Broadway performers, professional dancers and elite athletes, including NBA basketball and NFL football players. While he is skilled in performing highly complex, innovative surgeries, Dr. Walls uses nonsurgical solutions whenever possible, always aiming for the highest quality of care for his patients.
Dr. Walls uses an evolving collection of new treatments such as orthobiologics and shockwave therapy to complement or replace surgery, and promote faster healing for both athletes and non-athletes. “We can help some athletes return to their pre-injury level within four to six months, where five years ago it would take more than a year to recover,” Dr. Walls says.
He also has a personal understanding of “the psyche of the injured athlete.” Before he decided to become a surgeon, he was a two-time Irish dance champion and performed the lead role in Riverdance, the popular Irish dance show. During medical school in Dublin, Ireland, Dr. Walls spent his summers performing. He often noticed that his fellow dancers’ first thoughts after an injury were about how soon they could return to the stage. Now his goal is to help patients balance returning to activities quickly while ensuring a lasting recovery.
Dr. Walls has a particular interest in orthobiologics, a fairly new field where surgeons use products made from substances from the patient’s own body to stimulate the healing of broken bones and injured ligaments, muscles and tendons. An example is platelet-rich plasma: Using a patient’s own blood, a plasma is made of blood platelets containing growth factor proteins, which are known to help tissue heal. The surgeon injects the solution directly into the site of injury in a procedure that can be easily performed in the office setting.
In addition, Dr. Walls is pioneering the use of focused shockwave therapy at Yale Medicine Orthopaedics & Rehabiliation. For this therapy, the doctor uses a hand-held probe to send small, high-energy pulsations to damaged tissue to stimulate vascular growth and kick-start the healing process. The technique was developed in Europe many years ago and has only recently been introduced in the United States.
Sometimes surgery is the best treatment for a particular problem. Dr. Walls draws upon extensive expertise in different approaches to such complex operations as total ankle replacement. In addition, he is an expert in minimally invasive techniques, including foot and ankle arthroscopy, where surgeons create a buttonhole-sized incision and insert a tube with a tiny camera and surgical instruments attached.
An assistant professor at Yale School of Medicine, Dr. Walls recommends patients seek orthopaedic care for foot/ankle problems at an academic medical center, where doctors know about the latest treatments available as well as those that are still in development. “Patients need to see the specialists who are at the front line of orthopaedic foot and ankle care,” he says. “You will get it here.”