Dr. Robert Masson helps patients live fully in the face of injury so they can be prepared for recovery.
Determination and grit are traits that define successful individuals, business leaders and athletes as they move in the direction of their goals. When faced with a roadblock, these traits carry them through.
Dr. Robert Masson of Masson Spine Institute is all of the above. When we spoke for this article, it was clear that he’s smart, passionate and, most of all, competitive – both in the operating room and on the court, or the field, or the track.
Dr. Masson coaches his patients on their journey to spine health. When properly prepared for their surgical intervention, patients come out on the other side ready to get back to an active, pain-free life. As a life-long participant in competitive sports, he has used his own techniques first-hand to bounce back from injury.
Advocating for Extreme Recovery
An internationally recognized neurosurgeon who specializes in micro-reconstructive spine surgery and sports spine surgery, Dr. Masson focuses on three main areas of spine health: cervical and lumbar disc disorder, cervical disc arthroplasty (artificial disc) and grade 1 spondylolisthesis. His patients are highly active individuals. No matter their level of athleticism, from coaching their child’s Little League team to being a weekend warrior tennis player, they have busy, demanding lives and exceptional performance goals.
“Our role in the spine surgery cycle is to get people back to their life,” Dr. Masson says. “My practice is where people go when they want to restore their ability to chase their dreams and chase their sports.”
With tens of thousands of microsurgical spine procedures under his belt, Dr. Masson has advocated for prevention, wellness, fitness and extreme recovery for his patients since 1988.
The Doctor Becomes the Patient
In 2011, Dr. Masson found himself on the opposite end of the spine health spectrum when he landed on his head while on a trampoline with his son. Though his experience as a surgeon told him that the landing was cause for concern, it took two years of numbness in his right arm and intermittent pain that turned into constant pain before he validated the need for surgery.
“When I realized that I was starting to say ‘no’ to things that I normally would’ve done, that’s when I decided to have surgery,” Dr. Masson says.
Dr. Mitchell Supler performed his cervical arthroplasty procedure. Their philosophies and shared values as partners at Masson Spine Institute were key factors in the surgery’s success.
“Dr. Supler treated me like we treat all of our patient athletes – with preparation, fitness, an expert surgical result and world-class technology in Centinel Spine’s Prodisc C artificial disc,” Dr. Masson says. “This gave me the confidence to immediately chase my dreams and my recovery goals.”
He was fully recovered within a month following the surgery in May 2013 – back to playing golf and full-court basketball, back to running and back to life. That summer, when Wendy Chioji asked him to join her in climbing Mount Kilimanjaro with Livestrong the following February, he accepted the challenge. They reached the summit on Feb. 20, 2014.
“That become my recovery goal,” Dr. Masson says of the experience. “It was probably, in so many ways, one of the most incredible trips of my life.”
Getting in the Right Mindset
Dr. Masson’s extreme recovery is due in part to one of MSI’s core values: pre-habilitation. Through adaptive fitness and improvement in nutrition, choices, and rest and recovery cycles, patients build habits that provide structure. Their bodies are then able to maintain that preparation before, during and after the therapeutic intervention.
“It’s basically preparing yourself for future trauma,” Dr. Masson says, noting that most individuals don’t understand the value of pre-habilitation until they’re already
The purpose of this concept is to strengthen the patient’s mind, body and soul in a way that prepares them for recovery.
“If you show up for the surgery strong, your recovery will be quick; if you show up for surgery in a deep, dark hole, your recovery will be long,” Dr. Masson says. “How you prepare for surgery is as important as if you should have it.”
At MSI, all surgery patients are treated like patient athletes in the sense that the more prepared they are for the trauma of surgery, the faster their recovery will be, the stronger their recovery will be and the less complications they’re going to have to worry about. Whether it’s for the practice’s most targeted procedure, cervical artificial disc surgery, or one of its other specialties, patients trust MSI to coach them toward recovery.
“This is your life,” Dr. Masson says. “You have to take ownership of it.”
Dr. Robert Masson is an internationally recognized neurosurgeon who specializes in micro-reconstructive spine surgery and sports spine surgery. He also serves as director of the Orlando Health Health Central Hospital JCAHO accredited Spine Center of Excellence.