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Grunfeld helps get college athlete back on the field

Grunfeld helps get college athlete back on the field

It’s the last thing that a college quarterback hopeful wants to have happen – get sidelined at the end of your senior football season. But that’s exactly what happened to Riley Hill in 2017 when he sprained his ankle during a high school playoff game.

A Wyoming native from Greybull, Riley had signed on to play football at Chadron State College in Nebraska, but after continuing to suffer with his ankle, Riley underwent a surgery in Rapid City in March 2018 to remove a bony enlargement on the back of his heel, known as a Haglund’s deformity.

Working with a physical therapist and trainers at the college, Riley was anxious to start his college career as a redshirt freshman. But continued pain kept him from participating.

That’s when Riley heard about Dr. Robert Grunfeld, an orthopedic surgeon at Powder River Orthopedics & Spine (PROS) who specializes in treating foot and ankle injuries. After doing an MRI, Dr. Grunfeld told Riley the news that his Achilles tendon was in bad shape and surgery would be required.

CCH orthopedic surgeon Dr. Robert Grunfeld “He had done everything imaginable to get back to competitive football,” Dr. Grunfeld said. “He wasn’t exaggerating his symptoms—the MRI looked like a new tear of the Achilles and some disease left behind.”

In November 2018, Riley underwent surgery to rupture his Achilles’s tendon and re-attach it. The surgery is an intricate process, something that Dr. Grunfeld said wasn’t successful even 10 years ago. Now with a “robust anchor system,” the surgery can provide patients with pretty much a full recovery.

Riley appreciated Dr. Grunfeld’s honest and straightforward answers about the risks of the surgery and what it would take to recover.

“He’s honest. He told me how long it was going to take me to heal,” Riley said.

Every day Riley is in the gym, working with the trainers and physical therapists at Chadron State to get stronger and prepared for next season. When he or the trainers have had questions about exercises or his recovery, Dr. Grunfeld has been a phone call away and his rapid responses have helped keep everyone on the same page.

“He’s always available,” Riley said. “He does a good job and makes sure you’re treated right.”

Riley has been participating in spring training and is excited at the prospect of being able to return to the football field this fall.

CCH Riley Hill “This ankle has been bothering me for over a year now,” Riley said. “Now being able to run and it not being tight means everything.”

Getting Riley back to the sport he loves is what Dr. Grunfeld considers a big win in his profession.

“He’s back to running, squatting and weightlifting,” Dr. Grunfeld said. “He’s ahead of the curve.”

Expert Orthopedic & Spine Care in Gillette, Wyoming
Dr. Robert Grunfeld is a board-certified orthopedic surgeon at Powder River Orthopedics & Spine in Gillette, Wyoming. The physicians at PROS take an innovative and comprehensive approach to the treatment of acute and chronic orthopedic pain. Have your procedure in our modern operating rooms at Campbell County Memorial Hospital or Powder River Surgery Center.

See the PROS for:

  • General orthopedic surgery
  • Joint replacement surgery: shoulder, hip, knee and ankle
  • Shoulder, elbow, hand and wrist surgery
  • Sports Medicine
  • Spine surgery and injections, including minimally invasive procedures
  • Bunions and great toe arthritis procedures
  • Foot and ankle surgery
  • Trauma and fracture care
  • Workplace injuries

For a consultation, call 307.686.1413 or visit

PROS is a Campbell County Medical Group Clinic with Campbell County Health.

Article written by Kim Phagan-Hansel, Wyoming freelance writer