When Ben Goldstein was a kid, he had to wear a back brace for nine months. As an adult, he ended up working as an orthotist – a person who fabricates and fits braces – alongside the doctor who treated him. Now, he’s taking that experience and his passion for helping people do what they love to do and bringing them to MUSC Health.
Goldstein, a board-certified prosthetist, orthotist, and pedorthist, recently started at MUSC with the newly launched MUSC Prosthetic Orthotic Services. The program quietly opened for inpatient use in January. As of Aug. 1, it’s now open to all.
“I’m really excited to be here and change what’s possible. This is something I never thought I’d be doing in a million years, but I get to start a department to help the people of the Lowcountry, Charleston and South Carolina,” he said.
The new unit, located on the fourth floor of Rutledge Tower, is yet another way in which MUSC Health is expanding beyond traditional hospital services to ensure the level of service, quality and efficiency for patients and physicians, said Matthew Winer, administrator over MUSC therapeutic services and strategic operations.
“I think it’s really exciting for us to be able to offer this type of program at MUSC. Venturing outside the traditional services we provide is really new to us,” Winer said.
MUSC and Carolina Orthotics & Prosthetics, a local company with over 30 years of experience, entered into the joint venture, with Carolina Orthotics & Prosthetics providing its logistical experience as the managing partner. Carolina Orthotics & Prosthetics continues to operate its own, independent business.
The new unit will need to stand on its own, and MUSC physicians and patients can decide whether to use the service or continue with an outside vendor.
“There’s no obligation on anyone’s part to refer patients our way. It’s on us – our ability to prove ourselves and to win over patients and providers,” Winer said.
Goldstein stands ready to win them over.
The New Englander actually got his start by custom fitting ski boots. From there he moved into pedorthics – fitting and creating custom shoes and inserts to deal with foot and lower limb problems. He’s spent over half of his career working in prosthetics and pediatrics, during residencies at two Shriners Hospitals and a staff position at Boston Orthotics & Prosthetics within Boston Children’s Hospital, dedicating the remainder to foot and ankle and academic pursuits.
Setting up shop at MUSC benefits patients because care can be streamlined, he said. Documentation is critical to getting patients the devices they need, and by working within the same system, both Goldstein and patients’ physicians can share notes and directly contact each other.
The new unit is stocked with off-the-shelf devices to fit patients head to toe –from braces to stabilize the spine post-surgically and foot positioners to prevent drop foot in patients confined to bed to protective helmets for patients who’ve had a bone flap removed during a craniotomy. Part of Goldstein’s job is knowing what works.
“There are a million different things to pick from. You’ve got to know what works for people and their body types,” he said.
He also custom fits braces. In Boston he focused on spinal bracing, primarily scoliosis, but he’s also worked with patients with spina bifida, cerebral palsy and plagiocephaly – when a newborn’s head becomes flattened. He also spent time at Beth Israel Deaconess working with the neurology and orthopedic teams for trauma cases.
Goldstein envisions the department growing to include a couple of fitters, four care providers and a residency program. The requirements to become an orthotist and prosthetist currently require a master’s degree and a year-long residency in each discipline.
Goldstein also stays abreast of changes in the field of prosthetics. He’s excited about osseointegration, a procedure in which a titanium implant is placed within living bone so the bone tissue grows and secures itself directly to the implant. In the U.S., it’s more often used in dental implants, but Goldstein sees it becoming more widely accepted for prosthetics.
Winer said Goldstein is exactly the right person to get this new unit off the ground. In addition to his credentials, Goldstein’s personality and comfort level with academic medical centers proved to be exactly what was needed, Winer said.