Kootenai Prosthetics & Orthotics

Braced for Success

Chris Cardinaletti

Doctors told Pat and Dave Cardinaletti that their young son Chris would be in a wheelchair for the rest of his life -- if he was lucky. If he wasn’t lucky, he would not survive the rare disease they couldn’t name.

Chris was born with hyper mobile joints causing chronic dislocation of his knees, ankles, shoulders and wrists. In other words, his ligaments, which are supposed to hold his body in place, constantly stretch like elastic bands creating orthopedically dangerous range of motion. For years, he could not walk on his own.

Today the soft spoken 29-year-old has proven the doctors’ dismal predictions very wrong. “I owe a lot to Dr. Michael DiBenedetto and Bob Miller,” Chris says, crediting his orthopedic surgeon and his orthotist with spending the last decade making sure Chris would not only survive, but thrive.

“They wouldn’t give up on me,” Chris says, “so I couldn’t very well give up on myself.”

Before moving to Bonner’s Ferry with his parents and brother ten years ago and getting the surgical and bracing help he needed, Chris says he spent a lot of days sitting on the couch because his body literally could not hold him up. These days Chris’s body cooperates with his mind, enabling him to get up and about, build custom furniture, and be much more independent. He proudly shows off photos of the beautiful China hutch he made for his mother’s 55th birthday. He’s taken up archery and frequently hikes with Oliver, his two-year-old Malamute/Great Dane, on the family’s 20-acre Bonners Ferry land.

“Nothing super strenuous or hilly,” he says. “If I overdo something, my bones actually ache – the ligaments and tendons are gone and it’s just bone rubbing on bone.”

Over the years he’s had six knee surgeries and worn ten different styles of braces. At one point he wore braces on both legs, one with customized stars and stripes and the other with a photo of a 1940’s pin-up girl. “I called them my American Pride and American Beauty braces,” Chris says with a grin.

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