Category Archives: Patient Stories

Courtney’s Story – Life After Scoliosis Surgery

courtney scoliosis basketball 3Finding out you have scoliosis is scary, and for fifth grader Courtney Walker, it was no different. Born with a competitive nature, she had many aspirations to play sports in school, particularly basketball. Each of her sisters grew taller than her mother, and she had the same goal. Finding out she had a curve in her spine only temporarily dashed her dreams.

Starting the Journey

courtney scoliosis basketball 2Once her family found Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children, they immediately got to work to set her spine straight. Naturally, her parents were very worried about her and thought that she might never walk again. However, Courtney was more optimistic. She never felt that anything was wrong with her before her diagnosis, and she was positive she would recover after the surgery.

Surgery and Road to Recovery

courtney scoliosis basketballThe surgeons at TSRHC placed rods in Courtney’s spine and screwed them into place. This corrected the curve in her back and she woke up from her scoliosis surgery with a smile on her face. She immediately began to recover and jumped back into her favorite sports. Two years later, she is practicing gymnastics, and can even do a back handspring by herself.

At TSRHC, Courtney had doctors and surgeons that believed in her, and that faith and hope allowed her to persevere until she accomplished every goal she had set for herself before her diagnosis. As Courtney reached the end of eighth grade, she accomplished the goal of growing taller than her mother – and her mom couldn’t be more proud.

Learn more about Courtney through her YouTube Video:

Two TSRHC Patients Win Prestigious Tommy Tranchin Award

This year’s winners of the Tommy Tranchin award have been announced, and we’re proud to report that two out of the six recipients are TSRHC patients.

The two winners, Alexander Milner and Drew Walton, are young men who embody the heart and spirit of the award—neither one lets a disability get in the way of achieving their dreams.

The Tommy Tranchin Award, sponsored by the Dallas Foundation, was established by Laurie and Rob Tranchin to continue the legacy of their son, Tommy, whose hearing disability didn’t stop him from pursuing a passion for music. The award gives recipients the opportunity to follow their dreams by granting them a stipend (up to $1,500) to be used toward a proposed activity for which they have a passion.

For Alexander Milner, his dream is to one day compete in the Olympics. At age 3, Alexander was WAT_3922stricken with polio, which caused paralysis in his left leg. He initially began learning gymnastics as a form of physical therapy, but he quickly developed a love for the sport.

Alexander is now one of the top gymnasts in the state of Texas and hopes to take his passion all the way to the Olympics. With help from the Tommy Tranchin Award, Alexander will be able to travel to a prestigious gymnastics competition.

Drew Walton has cerebral palsy. When he was an infant, a pediatrician told Drew’s mother that heDrew Walton Tommy Tranchin Award would never learn to walk or talk. As a patient at TSRHC, Drew has exceeded everyone’s expectations—earning straight A’s at Waxahachie High School, where he also manages the track and football teams.

Drew applied for the Tommy Tranchin Award, with help from his teacher, Mr. Galliger. As an award recipient, Drew will receive Dragon software, a laptop computer, printer and microphone, which will give him the ability to further his studies.

Competition for the Tommy Tranchin Award was extremely strong this year, and we’re proud that two of our patients were able to show the determination, commitment and perseverance necessary to win. The TSRHC staff congratulates Alexander and Drew on this tremendous achievement.

Emily’s Story – Chapter Two

5Patients with scoliosis are treated at Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children all the time, but TSRHC patient Emily’s case is different. Her scoliosis was already extreme at a very young age, forcing her to make TSHRC like a second home. She became well known around the hospital for her happy spirit and you may remember seeing our very popular first video of her! Now eight years later– we catch up with her to see how she’s doing.

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Since her final scoliosis surgery fused permanent rods to her spine, Emily hasn’t had any problems with her scoliosis. She continues to return to the hospital occasionally for checkups, but her doctor, Dr. Rathjen, has cleared her to participate in some of her favorite activities including: fishing, horseback riding and golfing.

Emily Spaulding age 12 of_ Midland_22Participating in Studies

Emily returns to the hospital periodically for testing in order to help doctors researching early onset scoliosis. Currently, there is no explanation for why she was born with a 55 degree curve in her spine because no one else in her family has had scoliosis. However, the good news is that the doctors have concluded that she will not pass it down to her own kids.

Growing Up Fast

After having 33 surgeries over the course of ten years, Emily had no other choice than to grow up fast.

Watch Emily’s Story – Chapter Two, to catch up with the Midland 13-year-old and hear more about her experience at TSRHC!

TSRHC Patients Compete at UCO Endeavor Games

Post by TSRHC Prosthetist Amanda Brown, CPO, LPO

photo 2 copyJune 5, 2014 kicked off the 15th annual UCO Endeavor Games where athletes gathered from around the world to participate in Paralympic Sporting Events. These games included track and field, swimming, wheelchair basketball, sitting volleyball, archery and many more.  All ages were welcome and among the many participants were seven patients from TSRHC!

The competitive nature of the games was exhilarating and so exciting to watch.  Many of the adult athletes included paralympians who participated in the 2012 London Paralympic Games, as well as veterans from around the country.  The youth athletes included children who dream of photo 3 copybecoming a competitive athlete and love to participate in sporting events. This year’s unique group of participants allowed each athlete to compete against each other and also learn from each other.  The mentoring and encouragement throughout the weekend was remarkable and it was a true representation of the leadership and love for the games.

TSRHC’s seven participating patients represented the hospital with flying colors!  Multiple gold medals were won and many of them participated in numerous events. Two of our patients were noticed by the USA Olympic Committee for both Track and Swimming and five of our kids qualified for Junior Nationals in July.  We even had one of our many star patients win the “Junior Athlete of the Year Award” which was presented at the Athlete Banquet!

photo 19 copyWe are very proud of all of our patients who participated in the Endeavor Games.  Our vision here at the hospital is to always demonstrate the importance of encouraging our patients to pursue their dreams and goals. The Endeavor Games is an opportunity for our patients to compete and build confidence by surrounding themselves with an amazing support system.

The Power of Young Hope: inspiration from a youthful amputee

Emmy Raney

Emmy participated in the KidSwing Golf Tournament to give back to TSRHC.

Sometimes, it’s the adolescents around us that show us how to truly live a successful and happy life.  No matter what barriers they face, young people have a way of showing us how to overcome.  This is certainly true of Emmy, a young amputee who doesn’t let anything get in her way.

Finding Hope at TSRHC

Ever since she was a baby, Emmy struggled with problems in her left foot and leg due to nerve damage caused by spina bifida, a developmental disability.  But by the time she reached second grade, Emmy’s leg just couldn’t keep up with her spunky and active lifestyle.  So, she and her family decided to have it amputated at Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children in Dallas.

Since then, her amazing progress has astonished everyone around her, from the many doctors she worked with at TSRHC to her very own friends and family.  Emmy doesn’t see her new prosthetic leg as a crutch – rather, it’s her ticket to a happy and active life.

Now ready to enter middle school, Emmy continues to impress everyone with her can-do attitude and her hope for all the possibilities that lie ahead.  Not only was she just accepted to be a cheerleader for next year, but she also will be a member of the track team when school starts again in the fall.

Running Forward

To prove her grit, Emmy recently participated in her school’s 5K race.  Her older brothers and brother-in-law also signed up, to help her out along the way.  But, before the race began, Emmy thanked them for their offer and assured them that she could do this on her own. She just wanted to run with her friends, like any other middle school girl.

And that’s exactly what she did.  Emmy crossed the finish line, just a little more than half way through the pack of 400 race participants with a smile on her face and light in her eyes.  To her, it didn’t seem like a big deal.  But to everyone watching, she was a huge inspiration.

After the race, Emmy was presented with a plaque with a quote from Babe Ruth that couldn’t sum up her attitude any better: “You can’t beat a person who never quits.”

No doubt, Emmy will continue to conquer any challenges that she faces.  From track to cheerleading to golf, she plans to do it all.

Meet Dallas Marathon’s Junior Race Director – TSRHC Patient Ann-Elise

The one month countdown to the Dallas Marathon has begun! Each year, a TSRHC patient serves as the Junior Race Director, representing the thousands of children treated at the hospital each year. In this role, the Junior Race Director helps participants and sponsors understand how TSRHC benefits from the support of friends like the marathon. We are so excited to introduce you to our 2013 Junior Race Director, Ann-Elise!

Ann-Elise Mitcham_24

At first glance it is difficult to distinguish Ann-Elise, age 12, of North Richland Hills, from any other eighth grader in her class.  She enjoys riding her bike, playing tennis, reading adventure books and spending time with her friends. However, Ann-Elise spends 18 hours of each day in a back brace that goes virtually undetected by her peers.  She was recently diagnosed with scoliosis and as a result, she must wear a back brace, or orthosis, in an effort to stop the curvature from continuing.

Scoliosis is a progressive condition causing the spine to curve or twist into a “C” or “S” shape. It appears most often in adolescent girls (usually between the ages of 10-15) and has shown a tendency to run in families. Ranked by US News & World Report as the 2013 No. 1 Pediatric Orthopaedic program in the country, Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children (TSRHC) provides the highest quality care for patients like Ann-Elise and the 5,000 others who are treated for scoliosis each year.

In addition to frequent appointments with her doctors at TSRHC, Ann-Elise is also seen by the hospital’s Orthotics department, where she is fitted for a customized brace to help correct her scoliosis curve. TSRHC’s skilled orthotists carefully customize each brace to a patient’s specific needs and create the braces onsite at the hospital. The Orthotics department ensures that each device is not only comfortable for the patient to wear each day, but that it reflects each patient’s personality with custom designs, colors and artwork.

When asked what she likes most about TSRHC, Ann-Elise says she loves the friendly environment and staff. She was amazed by how much the staff at TSRHC listened to her concerns and took the time to know her personally, beyond the details surrounding her medical condition.

Ann-Elise is honored and excited to be the 2013 Junior Race Director for the metroPCS Dallas Marathon. “I can’t wait to cheer on the runners, especially my aunt and uncle,” she says. “They have always been so supportive of me.”

Ann-Elise is an excellent representation of the thousands of patients that are treated at TSRHC every year. With the help of the hospital she has no limits on what she can accomplish.

For more information about registering and volunteering for this year’s marathon visit:
www.dallasmarathon.com.

The Girl with the Zebra Leg – A TSRHC Patient Story

Staff Tony Herring; former patient Patience Beard

Patience with TSRHC Chief of Staff Emeritus Dr. Tony Herring

As soon as Patience Beard was born, her parents knew she was special. They told her growing up that God had made her just the way she was supposed to be made, and that she could do anything – despite the fact that she had been born with proximal focal femoral deficiency, a rare birth defect that prohibited growth in one of her legs.

At the age of eight months old, it came time for her parents to make a decision: should they attempt multiple surgeries throughout her life in order to recover her leg or should they amputate it? Years later, Patience is grateful to her parents for the difficult decision they made to go to Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children to have her leg amputated.

Once she reached seventh grade, she was comfortable enough using her prosthetic leg to try out for the cheerleading squad with the rest of her friends. It became her passion, and she was one of the best on the squad. There was nothing her prosthetic leg could keep her from doing.

As college soon approached, she decided she wanted to continue her love of cheerleading and audition for the University of Arkansas cheering squad. They told her beforehand that there would be no exceptions made and that if she could not perform as well as the other cheerleaders, she would not be chosen. She was accepted on the squad and felt proud knowing that despite her amputation, she was able to perform just as well as the others that auditioned.

Watch Patience’s inspiring story and learn more about the exceptional work done in TSRHC’s Prosthetics Department at www.tsrhc.org/prosthetics.

7-Year-Old Emily of Emily’s Monkeys Sells 720 Doughnuts, Raises $2,120 for TSRHC in 2 Days

Even though she’s just seven years old, little Emily felt the need to thank Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children in a big way.

Before we talk in more detail about the inspiring feat this child accomplished, it’s important to know a little about Emily’s background.   Emily suffers from a condition called juvenile dermatomyositis (JDM), a condition so rare that it affects just 3 in 1 million children.

What is Juvenile Dermatomyositis (JDM)?  

JDM is an autoimmune dysfunction that manifests itself in children, primarily in females.  The body’s immune system turns against itself, attacking its blood vessels.  This rare condition causes some or all of the following complications:

  • Muscle weakness
  • Inflammation in muscles
  • A distinctive red rash on the face, eyelids, hands and many of the major joints
  • Calcium deposits under the skin

The condition also results in fatigue, poor coordination, and when it becomes particularly severe, simple tasks like walking up stairs or lifting light objects become painfully difficult for the affected individual.

Unfortunately, doctors still aren’t entirely sure what causes the condition, although popular belief holds genetics responsible.  Because the condition is so rare, it often gets misdiagnosed for other muscle diseases like muscular dystrophy.

Emily Overcomes all Odds

Despite the rare nature of this condition, Emily eventually found her way to TSRHC’s pediatric rheumatology clinic, where she receives treatment.

Because of this special treatment, Emily wanted to extend her thanks, but wasn’t quite sure how. Eventually she and her family founded Emily’s Monkeys. With the help of friends and volunteers they have been making sock monkeys to give to children currently awaiting surgery and holding other fundraisers to raise money for TSRHC.

Emilys Monkeys TSRHC

Last month, Emily’s father Josh suggested asking her favorite donut shop, The Hole Thing in Forney, Texas, if they would be willing to co-host a fundraiser.  Without any hesitation, The Hole Thing wholeheartedly agreed. Both agreed to make 720 monkey-shaped donuts, flavored with chocolate and banana.

All 720 donuts lasted just 48 hours.  $2,120 was raised, and The Hole Thing opted to match the funds.  A check totaling $4,239 was delivered to TSRHC during one of Emily’s Monkeys popular sock monkey making parties on Saturday, June 8 at the old firehouse in downtown Forney.

Great work Emily, and thank you for your efforts!