Boat Racing Champion Undergoes Total Disc Replacement Surgery


Dr. Michael Janssen pic

Dr. Michael Janssen

Russell “Rusty” Rahm is the CEO of telemarketing company Millennium Marketing. A world champion offshore powerboat racer, Rusty Rahm recently underwent total disc replacement (TDR) surgery at the Center for Spine and Orthopedics. The surgery was performed by Dr. Michael Janssen.

Dr. Janssen has a long history of performing surgeries on athletes and boat racers. When Rahm approached him complaining of severe back pain, he performed an MRI which revealed that the boat racing world champion was at risk of permanent spinal cord injury. He immediately recommended a procedure to relieve pressure on the patient’s spine followed by a TDR surgery.

TDR is usually performed to remove painful discs along the spinal cord. Discs, the cartilage-like tissues located between individual bones of the vertebra, are flexible and allow the spine to bend. When these discs cause severe pain, a TDR can be recommended to remove them and replace them with prosthetic implants or artificial discs. In the case above, Rahm felt immediate postoperative pain relief after the surgery.


TDR Offers Less-Restrictive Alternative to Spinal Fusion


Total Disc Replacement pic

Total Disc Replacement

Russell “Rusty” Rahm currently serves as CEO of the Kansas City, Missouri, company Subscription Ink, and as owner of Wake Effects, LLC. Rusty Rahm is an avid offshore powerboat racer, and a winner of the sport’s 2016 Super Boat International Florida Championship, Key West SBI World Championship, and SBI National Series Championship.

In 2017, Mr. Rahm underwent total disc replacement surgery under the care of renowned spine and orthopedic surgeon Dr. Michael Janssen. Dr. Janssen’s career includes complex surgeries on numerous injured and ailing professional athletes. He was one of the first surgeons to perform the TDR procedure in the United States.

TDR is also sometimes referred to as ADR, or artificial disc replacement. Patients in need of back surgery to relieve chronic, intense pain typically receive either a spinal fusion procedure or disc replacement.

Spinal fusion is currently the most common type of spinal surgery. It involves the use of a bone graft to fuse the problem bones in place in order to allow them to heal into one healthy unit. Patients often wear a brace post-surgery to facilitate the healing process. Full healing can take as long as three months.

TDR represents a newer alternative. In TDR, a mobile mechanical device takes the place of a damaged disc. In sharp contrast to fusion procedures, artificial disc replacement patients are not restricted in their movements. In fact, doctors say that movement can result in more rapid and successful healing.

What Is Total Disc Replacement Surgery?


Total Disc Replacement pic

Total Disc Replacement

A world champion powerboat racer, Russell “Rusty” Rahm owns the No. 17 Wake Effects MTI powerboat, which he raced to an SBI World Championship title in 2016. In early 2017, Rusty Rahm reached out to Dr. Michael Janssen for relief from severe neck pain, which was beginning to interfere with his racing and overall physical well-being. Dr. Janssen, a highly respected spine and orthopedic surgeon, corrected Mr. Rahm’s condition through total disc replacement surgery.

Although total disc replacement (TDR) procedures have been used in Europe since the 1980s, surgeons in the United States have only had access to FDA-approved artificial discs for a little over a decade. Since then, TDR surgery has been offered as an alternative to spinal fusion, which isn’t always the best course of treatment for all patients requiring surgery.

TDR is used in patients with chronic disc-induced pain that has not responded to more conservative treatments such as medication, physical therapy, and/or spinal manipulation. To complete the procedure, a spine surgeon removes the degenerative disc and replaces it with an artificial disc that connects to the vertebrae above and below it, using two plates.

Unlike spinal fusion, which prevents the painful spinal segment from moving, artificial discs are designed to support normal spinal movement. This can prevent abnormal wear and tear on other parts of the spine while helping patients get back to regular activities as quickly as possible.