Before comprehensive spinal surgery, Len Newcomb had lost all mobility in his legs. But with the help of our doctors, now he’s walking tall.

Heavy lifting, an active job and genetics did a number on Len Newcomb’s back, so much so that he had five spinal surgeries in a 10-year period to alleviate his pain and regain full use of his back.

But his condition only worsened. By the fall of 2016, Len’s pain had increased exponentially and he had so much numbness in his legs that he could stand for only 10 minutes at a time.

Walking became impossible. After falling and breaking both of his arms while trying to catch himself, Len knew something had to be done.

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He was only 66.

A referral led him to Frank L. Acosta, Jr., MD, associate professor of neurosurgery at the Keck School of Medicine of USC and neurosurgeon at the USC Spine Center of  Keck Medicine of USC, who assured Len that he could help.

“Everyone I spoke with before Dr. Acosta cautioned me against having another surgery for fear that I would lose the ability to walk,” Len said. “But I was already to the point where I couldn’t get around, so I didn’t feel like it was a risk. Dr. Acosta assured me that I would be able to walk, that he could fix my problem — and he did.”

Dr. Acosta performed an eight-level spinal fusion surgery from Len’s 10th thoracic vertebrae down to his pelvis. He worked meticulously to fuse together the small bones so that Len’s spine would have stability and strength. The surgery took 10 hours to complete.

Len barely remembers the first two weeks of recovery after the surgery. During the third week, he began rehabilitation therapy.

“It was intense,” he remembers. “I didn’t feel like getting up and doing anything, but my nurses were tough — they didn’t take any guff from anybody, and they persuaded me to get up and move around.”

Fast-forward six months and Len is walking, standing for long periods of time, doing yard work and even back on his bicycle.

“I couldn’t do the simple things before because I couldn’t stand for very long,” he said. “Now I can.”

His recovery has been so successful that Len and his wife have booked a trip to Hawaii, something that they had not done before because they didn’t want to waste the money for a trip when Len couldn’t get around.

“I give all the credit to Dr. Acosta and the entire team at Keck Medicine of USC,” Len said. “He is extremely intelligent, and the team approach to care is second to none. They are the best in the world. They don’t make excuses — they just get in there and get the job done.”

If you experience chronic or acute back pain, or suffer from a neurological disorder, consult the experts at the USC Spine Center of Keck Medicine of USC.

If you are in the Los Angeles area and are looking for exceptional care from some of the top spine surgeons in the world, schedule an appointment by calling  (800) USC-CARE (800-872-2273) or visiting https://spine.keckmedicine.org/request-an-appointment/.

By Heidi Tyline King