December 25, 2017

After hip trauma, patient returns to climbing mountains

Hip | Trauma


Walter Glover is an experienced mountain climber and uses his mountain climbing to raise money for children’s causes. In fact he has helped raise more than $135,000 for St.Vincent Southern Indiana Hospitals to clinically manage youth obesity at the St.Vincent Jennings, St.Vincent Salem and St.Vincent Dunn Hospitals.

In May 2017, Walter climbed Rainbow Mountain in Peru to raise awareness for children’s wellness. Less than a week after his trip, Walter was involved in a bicycle crash, breaking his hip.  Walter saw OrthoIndy trauma surgeon, Dr. Renn Crichlow at the St.Vincent Level 1 Trauma Center off 86th Street in Indianapolis.

The diagnosis

“After being seen by Dr. Crichlow, despite some anxiety, I had a sense of calm and confidence,” said Walter. “Given my presenting diagnosis, I’d brought overnight clothes believing I was going to have immediate surgery for what was diagnosed as a ‘broken’ hip. Dr. Crichlow said while my state of what I call ‘adventure wellness’ would make me an excellent candidate for surgery, he had an alternate plan in which he was fully confident.”

This was exciting news for Walter as he had spent the last 10 years trying to climb the Seven Summits, the highest mountains on each of the seven continents. And at age 69, he wasn’t ready to give up climbing even though he had several setbacks along the way.

Dr. Crichlow informed Walter that he wanted to make sure Walter would continue to climb mountains and be an advocate for children. After looking at multiple X-rays, Dr. Crichlow revised Walter’s diagnosis to a fracture of the hip socket or acetabulum, and determined that Walter would need several months of rest, use of a walker and frequent check-ins to make sure his treatment plan was on the right path.

“From my first appointment with Dr. Crichlow, I appreciated and admired his clinical excellence, confidence, calm, compassion and his sense of humor,” said Walter. “Having worked in hospitals more than a quarter century the last 13 years as a chaplain for St.Vincent Hospitals in southern Indiana, I know what good to great care looks like. I am impatient with less.”

However, for someone who leads a very active lifestyle, rest and a reduced activity level was difficult to accept. Before the injury Walter was training by carrying a 25-pound backpack for a minimum of 100 to 120 minutes every day. Now he had to relax and use a walker for nearly three months.

“Mr. Glover had a fracture of the hip socket. Fortunately, the break was non-displaced, or what most people call a ‘hair-line crack’. This meant that if we could maintain the alignment of the bone, we could avoid surgery,” said Dr. Crichlow. “Thus we elected to follow Mr. Glover closely with regular X-rays. Mr. Glover was our most compliant patient and followed every instruction to the letter. Due to his commitment to the treatment plan, his fracture never shifted and we were able to successfully treat him without surgery.”

The extent of Walter’s movement involved a walker and he was unable to use his right leg. Because Walter lives alone, he had to depend on family, friends and neighbors to help him get around. This was a difficult time for someone who previously led a very active and social life.  Fortunately, it wasn’t permanent. 

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Life after hip treatment

“When Dr. Crichlow advanced me to Aqua Therapy as a part of my rehabilitation plan, it was a slice of heaven,” said Walter. “I was able to walk and walk and walk. It wasn’t a mountain, it was in a pool, but suddenly exercise slowly returned to my life.”

Walter was able to put his walker away and after using a trek pole instead of a cane, he was soon walking on his own again. When Walter was fully released, he gradually allowed himself to return to his love of exercise. He started climbing, hiking, riding his bike and even playing tennis.

“From the beginning Mr. Glover showed an incredible desire to return to his pre-injury level of activity. His commitment to the treatment plan was admirable. He often joked that his goal was to win the award for ‘The Most Compliant Patient of the Year’. He was definitely successful. In fact Mr. Glover was so great to work with, it was bittersweet when we eventually discharged him from care.” said Dr. Crichlow.

In March 2018 Walter plans to ski Telluride, Colorado. In April and May 2018 he plans to climb in Patagonia, South America as part of his advocacy of raising money for Foundation for Youth in Columbus, Indiana.

“I began climbing mountains at the ‘tender age’ age of 59. I am 10 years older now. My approach to the mountains, and my approach to Dr. Crichlow’s curative plan for me was and is inspirational – I have been told that time and again,” said Walter. “I am not an elite athlete like a racecar driver. I am a pretty ordinary flatlander Hoosier, except I am joyful, resilient and know how to dream big. Dr. Crichlow’s last words to me on ‘graduation’ day were, ‘You have been a ray of sunshine around here.’”

If you are interested in helping Walter raise money for the Foundation of Youth in Columbus, you can make online donations at Be sure to designate: Walter Glover’s Scholarship Climbs. You may learn more about Walter and his adventures at Walter also has written books about his expeditions to Mount Everest, Kilimanjaro, and mountains in Russia and Australia. They are available for purchase from Amazon or Barnes and Noble.

To schedule an appointment with Dr. Crichlow, please call 317.917.4384 or learn more about OrthoIndy Trauma.

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