Orthopedics: Walking on a Broken Leg

"Get the patient out of bed and walking," has become an increasingly familiar refrain of surgeons after virtually every kind of operation. But there seemed to be one obvious exception: if the patient has a broken leg — or, worse, two broken legs — should he not stay in a cast and flat on his back for weeks? No, concluded Orthopedic Surgeon Ernst Dehne of the Veterans Administration Hospital in Memphis; let him start walking as soon as the cast is dry.

The broad-scale test of this idea was carried out at the Army's Fitzsimons General Hospital in Denver...

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