From an early age Samir Sodha had an extraordinary inspiration for becoming a doctor: “My mother was not able to finish medical school because she got married,” says Dr. Sodha, an orthopedic surgeon specializing in hand surgery. “She became a respiratory therapist but never fulfilled her dream of being a doctor. Growing up I had a predilection for science and biology so it was always in the back of my mind that I would follow her and complete her quest,” he says. Before joining Rothman Orthopedic Institute in 2018 he had a practice in the New York Hudson Valley and for 10 years directed the hand and elbow trauma service of their regional hospital.
When it came to choosing his field of orthopedics, Dr. Sodha was drawn to the intricate surgery performed on hands. “In orthopedics, spine surgeries, for example, work on big parts with big tools, but with the over 300 procedures that can be done on hands, you have to be very proficient as well as intricate because you’re dealing with complex combinations of bones, ligaments, nerves, and tendons.” He says about 30-40% of his practice is injury cases, such as cuts from glass or knives and falls and breaks in wrists or hands. “These are the traumas of everyday life,” he says. The rest is primarily elective procedures including carpal tunnel syndrome, trigger finger, arthritis, and a nerve problem in the elbow called cubital tunnel syndrome. “Some procedures can now be done endoscopically with a much smaller incision and the use of a tiny camera, so it’s minimally invasive,” he says. He recently worked with Jordan Jackson, a baseball player who grew up in Little Ferry, played for Ridgefield Park High School, Bluefield University, and the Somerset Patriots, a Double A affiliate of the New York Yankees. “Last summer while playing for a team in California I injured a nerve swinging the bat,” says Jackson. “Dr. Sodha operated on my hand to release the pressure on the nerve and I had minimal pain after the surgery. He did an incredible job and after resting it for about three weeks I was back!” Dr. Sodha is also glad that he’s playing again. “Jordan has been shooting me Instagram pictures of how well he’s doing,” he says.
Growing up in Cherry Hill, N.J., Dr. Sodha was active, playing tennis and soccer at Cherry Hill High School East. After earning his bachelor’s degree from Rutgers University, he went to medical school at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. He then completed his residency in Orthopedic Surgery at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and followed with a fellowship in hand and microvascular surgery at the Harvard Program at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. Dr. Sodha is a board-certified orthopedic surgeon with a certificate of added qualification in hand surgery. He is currently chief of Orthopedic Hand Surgery at Hackensack University Medical Center, as well as an assistant professor of Orthopedic Surgery there, and is affiliated with The Valley Hospital in Ridgewood. He sees patients with hand, wrist, forearm, and elbow conditions at Rothman Orthopedics’ offices in Paramus and Montvale.
Living in Ridgewood with his wife Tina and their two daughters, Dr. Sodha and his family enjoy skiing together in the winter and the many activities the girls participate in. “Our older daughter Raina is 15 and is very involved in dance as well as volleyball,” he says. Younger daughter Niva, who is 10, also loves dance as well as swimming. “Our weekends are always full,” he says. And summer plans include camps and programs centered around their interests.
Dr. Sodha has recently become involved with Sakhi for South Asian Women, a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting domestic violence survivors. “I’m the father of two daughters which makes this charity extra special to me as a supporter; my plan is to have a more active role in the near future,” he says.
One of the best parts of his work is seeing patients of all ages. “From kids at 6 falling off their bikes to 85-year-olds doing the same, I see people from all walks of life.” But with 27 bones in the hand, with all of their complexities, no matter what the age, hands are invaluable to us. “It’s really a quality-of-life issue,” says Dr. Sodha. “People don’t like to be immobilized, unable to drive, use their computer or phone, or play their favorite sport. It can be incapacitating, so the faster we can get them back to their regular lives the better. Helping people in this way embodies everything I wanted to achieve in my medical practice.”