Dr. Helfet Award

Dr. David L. Helfet Recieves Award

Dr. David L. Helfet 2018 Recipient of the Society of Honorary Police Surgeons of the City of New York Inaugural Award

On May 3, 2018 the Society of Honorary Police Surgeons of the City of New York awarded the first ever such award to Orthopaedic Trauma Surgeon, David L. Helfet, MD. This award recognizes the continued and untiring efforts, skill and support of Dr. Helfet to the members of the New York Police Department (NYPD) and their families.

Dr. Helfet was profoundly honored to receive this award in recognition of his work which represents a central focus to him as an orthopaedic trauma surgeon, clinician and member of the community. Members of the NYPD and New York Fire Department (NYFD), and New York State Police (NYSP) have always been a major priority to Dr. Helfet, as he truly appreciates the difficult and challenging work they all do and personal sacrifice they make daily on our behalf.

Dr. Helfet has been an honorary surgeon for the NYPD from 1999 to present, Assistant Division Physician for the NYSP from 1999 to present, and Honorary Medical Officer and Honorary Fire Officer from 2009 to present.

Dr. Helfet has had the opportunity to provide treatment to many members of the NYPD, NYFD and NYSP throughout his career. Many have presented with injuries ranging from isolated orthopaedic trauma to complex poly-trauma requiring complex surgical procedures.

The goal is always to provide the optimal treatment to enable maximal recovery and provide the best patient care possible using the most effective treatment strategies at, and with the support of, the Hospital for Special Surgery and New York Presbyterian Hospital. Meeting so many members and families of the police and fire departments and having an opportunity to be a part of their recovery is a great source of pride to Dr. Helfet.

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Dr. Helfet - Orthopedic Trauma Surgeon

Landmine blast survivor now works alongside doctors who saved her

By Michelle Charlesworth | WABC-TV Channel 7
September 27, 2016


NEW YORK (WABC) – 17 years after a young woman lost both her legs in a mine blast in Kosovo, she is fulfilling her dreams in Manhattan, working side-by-side with doctors who gave her a second chance.

Ibadete Thaqi was 13 when a landmine exploded and took her legs.

Once Americans learned about her, strangers brought her to the Hospital for Special Surgery to receive free prostheses.

She spoke no English, but would become fluent, learn to walk, and come back to the United States for high school and college, and get a job at the hospital!

She has been working there as a research coordinator for three years. She cannot believe that the worst thing that ever happened to her opened up a whole new beautiful life.

“It’s a miracle. Personality, courage, and her determination,” said David Helfet, M.D., Orthopedic Trauma Surgeon at Hospital for Special Surgery.

Full article: Charlesworth, M. (2016). Landmine blast survivor now working alongside doctors who saved her. ABC7 New York. Retrieved 30 September 2016, from http://abc7ny.com/1529121/

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Carolina Panthers cornerback Bene' Benwikere suffers leg injury.

Panthers’ Benewikere’s broken leg not as bad as thought

During the football game against the Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers Cornerback, Bene Benwikere, suffered a fractured left leg, which will keep him out for the rest of the season, leaving many to wonder if he will be able to return to full strength once his injury heals. According to Dr. David Helfet, the prognosis is good.


But, wouldn’t you like to know more about the injury Bene suffered?

Well, time to be educated, as Dr. David Helfet, Orthopedic Trauma Surgeon at Hospital for Special Surgery, provided information on the nature of the injury Bene suffered.

Here is some information about leg fractures that Dr. Helfet provided.

What is the treatment/recovery of leg fractures? — “Depends where in the leg, but most require surgery to reduce back to the pre injury alignment, length and rotation and hold reduced until healing—on average 8-10 weeks.”

Prevalence of leg fractures in football — “Usually from direct blow to the leg or severe rotational force—much less common than ligamentous injuries—knee/ankle/foot.”

Long-term implications of leg fractures in football players — “Generally bones heal fully—the only caveat is any concomitant soft-tissue injury.”

With Bene’s type of fracture (lower leg, but the Panthers have not released is an open, or closed fracture), is he at a greater risk, or not, to fully recover? – “If a closed injury, ie. not an open fracture, and reduced as mentioned above, and does not involve the joint above and below the prognosis for a full recovery is excellent.”

The Hospital for Special Surgery is a world leader in sports medicine performance and rehabilitation and is nationally ranked #1 in orthopedics by U.S. News & World Report (2015-2016).

*Photo Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports
Full article:
Schafer, Chris. Panthers’ Benewikere’s broken leg not as bad as thought. (2015). Cat Crave. http://catcrave.com/2015/12/18/panthers-benewikeres-broken-leg-not-as-bad-as-thought/

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Dr. Helfet and family - Lifetime Achievement Award

Education, research and patient care

Hospital for Special Surgery hosted its 32nd Annual Tribute Dinner on Monday, June 1, 2015 at the Waldorf=Astoria, raising a record $4.2 million for education, research and patient care.

The gala honored Brian L. Roberts, chairman and CEO, Comcast Corporation and also presented David L. Helfet, MD, director, Orthopedic Trauma Service at Hospital for Special Surgery, with the Lifetime Achievement Award.

Dr. Henry Kissinger, the Nobel Laureate and former Secretary of State, presented the Lifetime Achievement Award to Dr. Helfet while Matt Lauer, host of NBC’s Today Show, led the tribute to Mr. Roberts. Saturday Night Live cast member Cecily Strong hosted the event of nearly 1,500 guests.

Dr. David Helfet, director of Orthopedic Trauma Service at Hospital for Special Surgery, and recipient of Lifetime Achievement Award, was seen with wife Molly Helfet, and children, Arthur John and Kelly.*

*Photo Credit: Richard Koek
Full article: Education, research and patient care. (2015). New York Social Diary. http://www.newyorksocialdiary.com/party-pictures/2015/education-research-and-patient-care#

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HSS 32nd Annual Tribute Dinner

Hospital for Special Surgery Honors Comcast’s Brian L. Roberts and Orthopedic Surgeon, David Helfet, MD, at Annual Tribute Dinner

Cecily Strong hosts record-breaking gala event

New York, NY—June 3, 2015

Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS) honored Brian L. Roberts, chairman and CEO of Comcast Corporation, in celebration of his business accomplishments at the hospital’s record-breaking 32nd Annual Tribute Dinner on Monday, June 1, 2015 at the Waldorf=Astoria in New York City.

The hospital also presented David L. Helfet, MD, director of Orthopedic Trauma Service, with the Lifetime Achievement Award. For the past 30 years, Dr. Helfet has provided life-saving care to countless patients and has grown the Orthopedic Trauma Service at HSS into a world-renowned program.

Dr. Henry Kissinger, the Nobel Laureate and former Secretary of State, presented the Lifetime Achievement Award to Dr. Helfet while Matt Lauer, host of NBC’s Today Show, led the tribute to Mr. Roberts.

Cecily Strong, cast member from Saturday Night Live, hosted the black tie gala of nearly 1,500 guests which included esteemed political leaders, medical professionals and business executives as well as celebrities, athletes and heroes from the Fire, Police and Military services. The event raised a record $4.2 million for education, research and patient care at Hospital for Special Surgery.

“He has shown incredible leadership in expanding our orthopedic trauma service and raising its awareness internationally.”

“We have been honored to have Dr. Helfet as part of our team,” said Todd J. Albert, MD, Surgeon-in-Chief and Medical Director at Hospital for Special Surgery. “He has shown incredible leadership in expanding our orthopedic trauma service and raising its awareness internationally. The hospital is very proud of all of his accomplishments and is honored to present him with the Lifetime Achievement Award.”

David L. Helfet, MD

Dr. Helfet is an orthopedic trauma surgeon and director of Orthopedic Trauma Service at Hospital for Special Surgery. In addition, he is a professor of Orthopedic Surgery at Weill Cornell Medical College and the director of the Orthopedic Trauma Service at New York-Presbyterian Hospital. Dr. Helfet is annually ranked as one of New York Magazine’s “Best Doctors in New York” and Castle Connolly’s “America’s Top Doctors”.

Dr. Helfet is known both nationally and internationally for his expertise in orthopedic trauma. As such, he has served on the boards of the major orthopaedic/trauma societies, including as President of the National Orthopaedic Trauma Association. He has published over 250 papers in peer-reviewed journals and contributed to forty books on the topic. As the recipient of many honors and awards, such as the Philip D. Wilson Jr. Teaching Award, Dr. Helfet has received visiting lectureships including the Presidential Guest and Watson-Jones Memorial Lecture of the British Orthopedic Association.

Dr. Helfet often provides medical care to public safety individuals as the designated Orthopedic Trauma specialist for the Fire Department of New York (FDNY), the New York Police Department (NYPD) and the New York State Police.

While he focuses on orthopedic trauma, Dr. Helfet also specializes in hip and is part of the Hip Preservation Service at HSS.

Dr. Helfet received his medical degree at the University of Cape Town Medical School in South Africa before completing his residency at Johns Hopkins University. He has held fellowships at University of Bern in Switzerland and University of California Los Angeles. 

Full article: Hospital for Special Surgery Honors Comcast’s Brian L. Roberts and Orthopedic Surgeon, David Helfet, MD, at Annual Tribute Dinner. Hospital for Special Surgery. https://www.hss.edu/newsroom_hss-honors-brian-roberts-david-helfet-at-tribute-dinner.asp

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Dr. Helfet with Lawrence O’Donnell

The Crash and Churn of Lawrence O’Donnell

MSNBC anchor Lawrence O’Donnell gave an exclusive interview to The Daily Beast’s Editor at Large, Lloyd Grove about how he survived a head-on car crash and how that event and the events afterwards changed his perspective in his day-to-day life.


He had a broken hip, fractured in several places as he was crushed against the driver’s seat. He had also suffered several knife-like flesh wounds on his legs. But if he positioned himself a certain way, he found he could avoid excruciating agony. 

“I think I need an ambulance, too,” he told one of Tortola’s first responders, who explained that he’d have to wait till one of the other ambulances returned; there were only two available on the island. It would likely be a long wait because the accident had caused an island-wide traffic jam. So O’Donnell looked around for the iPhone he’d just been holding; it had flown out of his hands on impact. He had to get in touch with his colleagues at MSNBC.


Within a few minutes, he was texting with various MSNBC producers, and within the hour—even before the ambulance arrived—MSNBC President Phil Griffin and Griffin’s boss, Patricia Fili-Krushel, chairman of the NBC Universal News Group, were arranging for separate private jets to medevac O’Donnell and his brother back to the United States—Lawrence to New York and Michael to Boston—and had lined up Dr. David Helfet, a renowned orthopedic trauma surgeon at Manhattan’s Hospital for Special Surgery, to operate on Lawrence.

*Photo Credit: Richard Koek
Full article:
 The Crash and Churn of Lawrence O’Donnell. (2014). The Daily Beast. http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/06/20/the-crash-and-churn-of-lawrence-o-donnell.html

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Bike Injury Doesn't Stop Marathon Runner

Man makes amazing comeback from injury to run in TCS NYC Marathon

By Amy Freeze

NEW YORK (WABC) – A man who has already run dozens of marathons wasn’t sure he was going to be able to take part in this year’s TCS New York City Marathon after being injured. But now he’s on course for an amazing comeback story.

Native New Yorker Fred Volpacchio was concerned he would never be the same. The 55 year old had run 28 marathons when a high speed bike crash in Central Park took him off course.

Fred says, “I swerved to avoid a biker and I crashed.” His wife got him trauma care at the Hospital for Special Surgery with Dr. David Helfet.

“He fell off his bicycle – broke his pelvis and ball of the hip joint went into the pelvis… well, after this you’re lucky if you could walk without a limp,” Helfet said.

Remarkably, Helfet performed a surgery that would put all the pieces back together using metal plates and screws. The process would allow the hip to heal instead of a total hip replacement.

Fred had not missed a New York Marathon since 1995 and he still hasn’t! Ironically his surgery was the year of Superstorm Sandy’s cancellation – now rebuilt, he’s become somewhat of a bionic man. “I’m actually in better shape now than I was before the injury,” said Fred.

“We are focused on an accident not being the end – get you back in the game back to what you were doing before,” said Dr. Helfert.

He explains trauma care can make people whole again, but he credits Fred’s pre-injury active lifestyle and his marathon mindset to securing his full recovery. “For a guy like Fred, many marathons, he had made up his mind mentally to get back to marathoning, back to doing that.”

Fred ran New York last year and he’s looking for a 3:40 PR this race visualizing the last turn from Central Park South!

“Tasting the finish and seeing it in front of you that little extra bit to spring and cross that TCS NYC Marathon finish line is thrilling!”, he said.

Source: Freeze, A. (2014). Man makes amazing comeback from injury to run in TCS NYC Marathon. ABC7 New York. http://abc7ny.com/sports/man-makes-amazing-comeback-from-injury-to-run-in-tcs-nyc-marathon/373422/

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Giving Back to Those Who Got Her Back on Her Feet


Newswise — Just before Christmas 2008 Nancy Abbate* and her husband were traveling to a family event in the Poconos when the car hit a patch of ice, crashed into a tree, severely injuring Nancy. Her husband did not survive. Rushed to a nearby hospital, Nancy was stabilized while her family contacted Dr. David Altchek, co-chief in the sports medicine and shoulder service at Hospital for Special Surgery. Before retiring, Nancy had worked with Dr. Altchek for 22 years, first as a head nurse in ambulatory surgery and then as a fundraiser for the Institute for Sports Medicine Research. Immediately, Dr. Altchek arranged to have Nancy airlifted back to New York City for care at Special Surgery. He contacted Dr. David Helfet, director of the hospital’s Orthopedic Trauma Service, who was leaving for a holiday trip to South Africa.


Immediately, Dr. Helfet went to work repairing her numerous orthopedic injuries: many of the large and small bones of her legs were broken in several places, including near her knees; her foot and ankle were crushed; she had several broken ribs; and four cervical spine fractures.

*Photo Credit: Hospital for Special Surgery
Full article:
 Giving Back to Those Who Got Her Back on Her Feet . (2017). Newswise.com. https://www.newswise.com/articles/giving-back-to-those-who-got-her-back-on-her-feet

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Avoid Hip Replacement

Novel surgery may help young trauma patients avoid total hip replacements


A novel surgery using transplanted bone and cartilage may help young patients avoid a hip replacement after a specific traumatic injury to the hip joint, according to a case study by orthopedic trauma specialists at Hospital for Special Surgery in New York. The study appears in the February issue of the Journal of Orthopaedic Trauma.

“This novel technique can help young patients to delay, or even possibly avoid altogether, the need for a total hip replacement,” said David L. Helfet, M.D., director of the Orthopedic Trauma Service at Hospital for Special Surgery.


The case reported by researchers at Hospital for Special Surgery involved an injury to an 18-year-old man who was a belted driver involved in a motor vehicle collision, striking a pole. After being admitted and observed at the initial hospital, he was assessed as having a small fracture of the femoral head and was released on crutches. Twenty days following the injury, he presented at Hospital for Special Surgery. (See sidebar on the patient’s experience from his point of view below.)

Computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) examinations were performed, which further delineated the large displaced section of the femoral head and a small associated fracture to the periphery of the hip socket (acetabulum).

Surgery was then performed, by orthopedic surgeons Dr. Helfet and Dr. Robert L. Buly, using a new technique that involves surgical dislocation of the femur in order to access and repair the fracture. Because one-third of the femoral head was missing due to the severe damage associated with the injury, doctors chose to transplant a special piece of frozen bone/cartilage. Hospitals, especially those with larger orthopedic surgery departments, have bone bank facilities that store bone and cartilage tissue based on surgical indications. Once thawed, the cartilage and bone were shaped to fit into the defect. The transplant was then anchored into place with two small headless screws.

“This is one of the first such case reports describing this procedure in the orthopaedic literature,” said Dr. Helfet. “The patient has had an early good functional recovery following such a severe injury to his hip joint.”

Post-operatively, the patient was on crutches, only 20 lbs weight bearing for two months, but he was told to avoid rigorous activities requiring further exertion. Subsequently, the patient was allowed to slowly progress to weight bearing as tolerated and work on obtaining full range of motion and strength of the hip. The patient returned for regular follow-up visits and x-rays of the hip revealed that the graft had properly incorporated. At 46 months following surgery, the patient is fully rehabilitated, was able to successfully complete his education, and has been able to return to the active life he enjoyed before the injury. Further studies with long-term results are needed, but the early results are promising.

“The surgery was a success. He is currently working as a mechanic for a country club. He was able to return to complete his education and perform a physically demanding job.” said Dr. Helfet. “The advantage of this surgery is the ability to delay or even avoid altogether a total hip replacement. Even more importantly, the longer a hip replacement can be delayed in a younger patient, the better, because there is less chance of one or multiple subsequent revision surgeries.”

Full article: Hospital for Special Surgery. “Novel surgery may help young trauma patients avoid total hip replacements.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 5 February 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/01/100129111837.htm>.

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Medical relief in Haiti

New Yorkers use wiles to get medical aid to Haiti

Hospitals using connections with trustees, governments, and friends to maneuver around obstacles and get medical teams and supplies where they are needed in the earthquake-ravaged nation.


One of the first teams on the ground, a Hospital for Special Surgery/New York Presbyterian team has since returned to New York, says a hospital spokeswoman. “They did 100 surgeries in 72 hours and then they ran out of supplies,” she said. The team leader Dr. David Helfet “Is reassessing the situation and expects to be part of broader effort later,” she said.

Full article: Scott, Gale. (2010). New Yorkers use wiles to get medical aid to Haiti. Crain’s New York Business. http://www.crainsnewyork.com/article/20100122/FREE/100129946/new-yorkers-use-wiles-to-get-medical-aid-to-haiti


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HSS Haiti Relief Team

NY medical team arrives in Haiti on a borrowed wing


A team of nine doctors, three nurses and two surgical technicians from the Hospital for Special Surgery arrived in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Saturday on a borrowed corporate jet. Dr. Soumitra Eachempati, an associate attending trauma center with New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell, also traveled with the team.

The team immediately began treating patients. Meanwhile, team leader Dr. David Helfet returned to New York City to gather more medical supplies and equipment, as well as to put together a relief crew of medical volunteers.


The volunteers, apparently the first group of New York physicians to arrive on a hospital-sponsored mission, mobilized quickly after the chief executive of Synthes, a medical device manufacturer, told Dr. Helfet the company would put its corporate jet and pilot at his disposal for the mercy mission.

Full article: Scott, Gale. (2010). NY medical team arrives in Haiti on a borrowed wing. Crain’s New York Business. http://www.crainsnewyork.com/article/20100118/FREE/100119886/ny-medical-team-arrives-in-haiti-on-a-borrowed-wing


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