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Department of Orthopaedic Surgery

Department of Orthopaedic Surgery

Portrait of a Grateful Patient

David Walters

David Walters

 Even at age 63, David Walters is still quite the accomplished athlete. The longtime Nevada County deputy district attorney still plays a number of racquet sports, including squash, racquetball and tennis. He rides mountain bikes, backpacks and hikes. But his favorite activity is surfing, which he has been doing since 1963.

A shared love of friendly competition helped Walters and his wife Kim, an oncology nurse, stay active throughout their demanding careers and their busy family life raising four boys. They’ve also received assists at key times from UC Davis surgeons, who have helped David overcome injuries that threatened to sideline him. 

Walters hit his first major speed bump when he started experiencing numbness and tingling in his right arm. After some rocky times during treatment and a decline in overall quality of life, he researched spinal care and came to UC Davis Health System, where neurosurgeon Kee Kim fused three cervical discs and quickly put Walters back on track. 

Walters plays squash particularly hard and then follows with tennis. He has an incentive for the high intensity: Kim Walters, whom he met on the courts, was a competitive racquetball player. As an adult she beat all the women in the “A” League and then started competing against the men in the “B” League – where she often won as well.

“Trash talking is a big part of the game,” Kim says, laughing.

After a while, some of those hard-fought games led to stiffness in David Walters’ left hip. At first he wrote it off as a side-effect of active sports. But as stiffness progressed to pain and then to constant pain, doctors discovered arthritis from a sports injury suffered in 1978.

Knowing where this path would lead, Walters started researching again. He discovered hip resurfacing and UC Davis orthopaedic surgeon Paul Di Cesare, one of the first U.S. surgeons who trained to perform the total resurfacing procedure. 

Resurfacing differs from traditional hip replacement in that it does not require the head of the femur to be replaced with a metal ball. Instead, resurfacing reshapes the head and caps it with a ball-shaped prosthesis which, as in hip replacement surgery, fits into a man-made lining in the socket. Resurfacing uses a bigger ball, making dislocation rare and allowing patients a more active lifestyle.

While the surgery itself went well, the Walterses acknowledge David’s road to recovery was slow and arduous. But now back up to speed, he is grateful that he has returned to the surfing, hiking and racquet sports he enjoys.

“Without the surgical success from both Dr. Di Cesare and Dr. Kim, my quality of life would be much lower,” he says.

Since retiring last year, David Walters has kept busy remodeling the house, keeping the property up, planning vacations with his wife – and, of course, staying active in sports. He hopes to write a book and to practice environmental law as a volunteer.

When asked how the racquetball games between spouses are going, both husband and wife give confident, winning grins.