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No Mountain Too High – TSRHC’s Amputee Ski Trip

Celebrating 35 years of building confidence, camaraderie and courage on the Amputee Ski Trip

One crisp, clear Colorado morning in 1985, young Daniel Massey was enjoying a ski run on the freshly powdered slopes of Winter Park, Colo. Conquering moguls on only his second day of learning to ski, he was not your average skier. Performing this feat as a quad-amputee, born with no arms or legs, Daniel was clearly not average at all.

Cover story_DanielIn the early ’80s, Herring attended an orthopedic conference where he became inspired after seeing a presentation about the benefits of skiing for the physically challenged. J. C. Montgomery, Jr., the hospital’s president at that time and now executive chairman of the TSRHC Foundation, rallied donors, the community and corporate sponsors to help make the trip a reality. This year, the weeklong event marked a milestone 35th anniversary, and there has been much cause for celebration.

“I’m really celebrating what this trip has meant to the kids,” Herring says. “The kids come back and tell me, even as 40-year-olds, that it was a turning point in their life.”

These amputee patients are faced with peaks and valleys every day, but finding the courage to take on the Rocky Mountains can be transformative. “A child may be the only one in their school with a disability,” Herring explains. “Some have never come out in the open with their prosthesis, flown on a plane or spent a night away from home. So it’s a huge step for them.”

But it’s not a step they take alone. They are accompanied by nurses, orthopedists and prosthetists, who act as chaperones, coordinators and a support unit for the young skiers. The travel coordination, meal planning and activity arrangements are a team effort.

Cover story_groupThe highly recognized staff at the National Sports Center for the Disabled (NSCD) is also a key part of that team. They carefully evaluate each skier and fit them with adaptive gear best suited to their level of physical ability and interest, from snowboards to ski bikes. Each patient is then paired with an instructor who shows them the best techniques to experience the thrill and freedom of speeding down the mountain.

“They have the same attitude we do,” Herring says of the NSCD staff. “We want to enable these kids to do anything they could possibly do and make it fun for them.”

“It’s not an easy event to pull off, but it’s certainly worth the effort,” explains TSRHC’s Director of Prosthetics Don Cummings, who has double, below-the-knee-amputations and has been on the trip 25 times.

Some might consider such a mission truly impossible, but clearly this one has been a success.

“It’s amazing how many lives have been touched through this incredible experience — including mine,” says Cummings, who skied for the first time on his inaugural trip in 1988. “These kids have taught me to accept my disability and myself.”

Herring points out that another benefit of the trip is learning the challenges these patients face in daily life.

“Watching them navigate ice, climb up snowy stairs and carry their luggage, you see what they are dealing with outside of a clinic setting,” he explains. “We can take that knowledge and find ways to help them function better out in the world. This trip really represents our philosophy of treating the whole child.”

The many benefits this trip provides are made possible by organizations like American Airlines, which provides air transportation through its “Kids in Need” program, the Stephen M. Seay Foundation and Dallas retailer Saint Bernard. The trip also relies on help from individuals like longtime TSRHC friend and volunteer Bob Ayers, who has served as a ski trip chaperone for many years and is now a hospital trustee.

Herring believes the biggest benefit of the trip is the unique and life-changing camaraderie created between kids who share the same challenges. Teens find a safe place to shed their inhibitions, their worries and sometimes even their legs.

“Some of these kids have never hopped around in front of other people without their prosthetic leg on and all of a sudden, they feel free to do that because this is just who they are,” Herring explains. “This trip is much more than skiing. It’s an avenue for that self-acceptance to happen.”

It’s been 31 years since Daniel Massey, with his quad-amputation, first strapped on his ski boots and helped the two-armed person beside him do the same. He says that the ski trip put him with amputee teenagers who were not just coping but excelling.

“On my first trip, I was having a lot of concerns about what high school would be like. I didn’t know if I could drive a car, if girls would find me attractive or if my friends would leave me behind,” Massey reflects. “I left the mountain knowing that I could do anything I wanted in life.”

Since then, Massey has graduated from college, is enjoying a successful marketing career with one of the largest computer companies in the country and is a happily married father of twin boys.

It appears that from the top of that mountain he could see — his loftiest goals were within reach.

 

**This article was featured as the cover story in our Rite Up Magazine. View more of the magazine in our e-mag version. 

Heart Health tips for Young Athletes from our Sports Medicine Team

As a nation, we celebrate our loved ones and cardiac health in February. In pediatric sports medicine, we are passionate about heart health. A well-rounded view of heart health means being aware of the signs and symptoms of sudden cardiac death.

The sudden death of a young athlete is rare, but when it happens, it is a devastating event for a family, team and community to experience. For this reason, the topic continues to be the center of discussions in sports medicine.

Experts agree on these key steps to protect young athletes:

REPORT

Signs, symptoms and any history of cardiac problems in young athletes should be reported at each pre-participation evaluation and when new problems develop. Some examples are chest pain, shortness of breath, and passing out.

ASK

Knowing your family’s medical history is a critical step to prevent sudden cardiac death in healthy young athletes. Ask your family members about a history of cardiac problems or sudden death in the family.

PREPARE

Learn the emergency plan for adults or youth who become unconscious at schools and sports venues. Know where to find the closest AED (automatic external defibrillator) and be sure it is accessible to all event participants, every time.

TexaHearts Scottish Rite Hospital pediatricians and sports medicine experts, Shane Miller M.D. and Jane Chung, M.D., advise parents to take athletes to their pediatrician for pre-participation evaluations. Though some schools and organizations may not require a release, seasonal check-ups and discussions with the doctor can help to prevent many problems and to address injuries before they become more serious.Learn more about pediatric orthopedics and sports medicine at Texas Scottish Rite Hospital at scottishritehospital.org/sports.

TSRHC Patient Delaney Named 94.9 KLTY Student Athlete of the Month

We are excited to announce that Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children (TSRHC) patient Delaney is 94.9 KLTY’s Student Athlete of the Month.

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Delaney pictured with her parents.

About Delaney

Age / Grade: 18 / Senior

School: Dallas Christian School

Sport: Soccer

Why She Was Nominated: Delaney is a great example of faith and perseverance. She has been a leg amputee since she was just 10 days old. She pursues every goal with passion and determination.

She has been playing soccer since she was four, and she has cheered since the sixth grade. Last year, she had an additional surgery on her leg and spent two months without her prosthesis. During this time, she performed and danced in her school musical, Annie.

Delaney has spent her summers volunteering at TSRHC, and she plans to study early childhood development at Texas Tech University, with the goal of becoming a Child Life Specialist to help children in the same way she received help.

Congratulations Delaney!

**TSRHC is a sponsor of the KLTY Student Athlete of the Month Program. Listen to the on-air call with Delaney, where they let her know about the honor and shared her story with KLTY listeners.

 

It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas here at TSRHC. In addition, to the 55 decorated trees scattered throughout the hospital, we have another treat to help patients and guests get into the holiday spirit.

Located on the first floor, across from our iconic mobile, sits a miniature winter wonderland. Filled with hundreds of little houses, this Christmas Village boasts a carousel, Ferris wheel, ice skating rink and rotating Christmas tree. Not to mention a train that circles around the village.

Because of all the intricate details it takes two and a half weeks to bring this village to life. Each year, our engineering team spends countless hours putting together this tiny town and making sure every item is placed with care.

Take a sneak peek at this Christmas Village and then stop by our hospital and see it for yourself. If you come with a little one, make it a game of “I Spy” and have them spot Santa or Frosty the Snowman within the village.

This Christmas Village was donated to the hospital Ross Williams and his family. Williams is a long-time volunteer and friend of the hospital who wanted to showcase his Department 56 house collection for patients and staff to enjoy year after year. If you are interested in learning about ways to back to TSRHC this holiday season, please visit scottishritehospital.org/give or call 214-559-7650.

Pediatricians Recommend Tougher Enforcement of Rules to Make Youth Football Safer

football blogThe American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has made new recommendations around the issue of tackling in youth football intended to improve player safety. Better enforcement of the rules governing illegal headfirst hits tops the list.

 

Dr. Shane Miller, a pediatrician specializing in treating sports-related injuries including concussions at the Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children Sports Medicine Center in Plano, agrees with the AAP recommendations, which were based on a number of scientific research studies.

 

According to the AAP, “The head and neck sustain a relatively small proportion of overall injuries but are usually involved when injuries are severe and are often the result of illegal tackling techniques such as spear tackling, which is when a player leads with the head. Research has shown that tackling or being tackled accounted for half of all football injuries among high school players.”

 

The AAP policy statement recommends:

  1. Ensuring proper enforcement of the rules, including on illegal headfirst hits that are now tolerated. They recommend zero tolerance and stronger sanctions, including expulsion from the game. “I am very much in favor of this,” Dr. Miller says, “and support even more significant penalties, including season-long expulsion for repeat offenders. We must make the game safer.”
  2. Considering removing tackling altogether while acknowledging it would fundamentally change the game. Participants must decide whether the benefits of playing are worth the risk, the AAP says.
  3. Expanding non-tackling leagues. Dr. Miller agrees, “It would be great to allow families the choice. Currently, there are not many options for kids once they are in middle school or high school.” However, he warns that more studies are needed to show that flag football is safer. Some research indicates it also has high injury rates.
  4. Limiting impact to the head. “Coaches need to focus on proper tackling and hitting techniques and limit contact in practice,” according to Dr. Miller, who cited USA Football’s Heads Up Tackling techniques as a model.
  5. Delaying the age at which tackling is permitted. “There is not agreement on a minimum age,” Dr. Miller says. “Some have proposed 14 years, but there is concern about waiting until they have gone through puberty and are bigger, stronger and faster before they learn to start hitting each other. I support teaching proper tackling, but this depends on the coaches’ backgrounds. Rather than certified coaches, many times youth football leagues are being coached by well-meaning parents who may not have any background or training in proper hitting and tackling techniques.”
  6. Strengthening neck muscles of young athletes to reduce the risk of concussions and other injuries. Dr. Miller uses the ‘bobble head doll’ analogy to describe a young football player with a helmet on. “Neck strengthening intuitively makes sense, is inexpensive, easy to do and can’t hurt!”
  7. Having athletic trainers at organized games and practices. “Athletic trainers are able to respond to concussions as well as any other injury or medical emergency that may arise on the field,” according to Dr. Miller, team physician for several area high schools. “I am a strong supporter of athletic trainers and their presence at sporting events. This also allows the coaches to focus on coaching, takes the decision-making process out of the coach’s hands and allows a trained medical professional to determine when an athlete can return to play.”

To learn more about youth sports concussions, take a look at our online info or PDF on sports concussions.

The Gold Standard: Celebrating 50 Years of Pioneering Dyslexia Care

Screen Shot 2015-11-03 at 10.02.00 AMFifty years ago, a man with an unwavering conviction to help children joined TSRHC’S staff. His name was Lucius ‘Luke’ Waites, Jr., M.D., and his pioneering work changed the world of learning disorders forever.

In 1924, Lucius Waites, Jr. was born in Hattiesburg, Miss., during a formative time in the study of learning disorders, such as dyslexia. The condition is characterized by a difficulty connecting letter symbols to sounds. It makes reading challenging and affects roughly 10 percent of all public school children.

For a child with dyslexia, the world can be a daunting place. Feelings of failure or isolation can
often accompany the condition. Little did anyone know that one day Waites would not only study dyslexia, but he would also help define it and ultimately change perceptions, treatment approaches, education, legislation and the lives of countless children in the process.

Screen Shot 2015-11-03 at 10.01.15 AMWhile playing football for Ole Miss, Waites gained a reputation for being a fierce competitor, playing in the era of no protective facemasks. That fearless spirit and drive to succeed would serve him well throughout his career. He graduated from the University of Tennessee College of Medicine in 1947 and began his work as a neurologist. He came to Dallas in 1961 to join the faculty at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. From 1961-65, he also assisted the TSRHC medical staff in the area of neurology.

During that period, Waites began to investigate the phenomenon of smart children who struggled to read. This condition was initially described as “word blindness” and “twisted symbols” (aka: Strephosymbolia). Research into this condition was considered fringe medicine at the time and often mocked as “quackery,” but the determined football player from Mississippi refused to give up. Then Scottish Rite Hospital Chief of Staff Brandon Carrell, M.D., observed the positive effect Waites’ methods were having on his patients and stood by his efforts. In 1965, Waites moved to TSRHC full time and the Luke Waites Center for Dyslexia and Learning Disorders was born. With the support of TSRHC and the Masonic community, Waites set out to build a program dedicated to diagnosing and treating children with the condition. Along with language therapist Aylett Royall Cox, Waites developed the hospital’s first dyslexia curriculum called Alphabetic Phonics. This new approach, with its dramatic and positive results, made waves in Dallas, across Texas and beyond.

Gladys Kolenovsky, administrative director of the Luke Waites Center for Dyslexia and Learning Disorders, with TSRHC Chairman of the Board Lyndon L. Olson, Jr.

“The support of the hospital, the administration and the board of trustees continues to be strong and crucial to our work,” says Gladys Kolenovsky, the center’s administrative director and a 39-year staff member. “From the beginning, they believed in what this center could do for children.”

In 1968, Waites organized a meeting of the World Federation of Neurology at the hospital, at which the medical term “developmental dyslexia” was defined. For the first time, dyslexia was recognized as a medical condition that called for an educational treatment.

But Waites did not stop there. In 1985, he enlisted the help of two equally tenacious colleagues — Kolenovsky and Geraldine ‘Tincy’ Miller, a former staff member who has gone on to serve more than 26 years on the Texas State Board of Education. Together, they facilitated two major changes in Texas education laws — separating dyslexia from special education programs and requiring dyslexia screening and testing in all public schools. As a result of their efforts, Texas became a leader in public policy for learning disorders.

“Because of this incredible group of individuals who were willing to take a chance, so many people are able to stand on the shoulders of their legacy and their bravery,” says Karen Avrit, the center’s educational director, who recently helped pass House Bill 866. This bill ensures that all undergraduate education majors in Texas learn how to recognize, identify and make basic accommodations for children in their classrooms who may be dyslexic.

Lucius “Luke” Waites, Jr., M.D., and Jeffrey Black, M.D., medical director of the Luke Waites Center for Dyslexia and Learning Disorders

In 1990, Jeffrey, Black, M.D., joined the TSRHC medical staff and the crusade, alongside Waites. Where Waites drew from clinical knowledge and child-focused intuition, Black revels in the scientific process. He set a high bar for data collection, results-driven experimentation and extensive research.

Black used precise, quantifiable measurements to prove that dyslexia could be remediated. From there, he proceeded to improve and adjust the existing curriculum based on his findings. It was through his unflinching dedication to data analysis that a new curriculum, Take Flight: A Comprehensive Intervention for Students with Dyslexia, was developed.

The curriculum allows children to learn the course material faster, with a higher retention rate. The first edition was printed in 2006. Today, Take Flight is used across America, in Canada an as far away as Dubai. The morning Avrit got a call from the Middle East inquiring about the program, she recalls saying, “Wow, we’ve gone international!”

The future of Take Flight looks bright, as Black and the team embark on the next journey in dyslexia education. Together with The University of Texas at Dallas, they are taking the curriculum into the digital arena. Through interactive technology, they will share the program with the next generation of children as well as increase its reach and scope for teachers.

Luke Waites Center for Dyslexia and Learning Disorders staff who have each served the department for 20 years or more: Back row, L to R: Vennecia Jackson, M.D., Lynne Reynolds, Karen Avrit, Sue Jones and Karen Yerger Front row, L to R: Gladys Kolenovsky, Jeffrey Black, M.D., and Veda Childs

Black is also pushing dyslexia research into the world of genetics. In collaboration with Jerry Ring, Ph.D., the center’s research scientist, and TSRHC’s remarkable genetics research team, work is being conducted to better understand dyslexia on a genetic level.

In 2013, the strong-willed Waites passed away at the age of 89, leaving behind a legacy that has changed the lives of individuals with dyslexia forever.

“It is wonderful to recognize Luke Waite’s legacy, while also paying tribute to the core values of the dyslexia department and the hospital,” Kolenovsky says. “The child comes first – always.”

**This article appeared on the cover of our Rite Up 2015: Issue 3 magazine. 

Trick or Treat? No — Truck or Treat!

Halloween’s arrival brings jack-o’-lanterns, spider webs, and more spooky fun, but the arrival of Halloween also means the time has come for the Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children’s annual Truck or Treat event. Hosted by the hospital’s Crayon Club, Truck or Treat brings together some of Halloween’s beloved traditions — plus a few more attractions.

Punkins!

Forget the Tricks, Enjoy Some Treats

Truck or Treat will take place at TSRHC’s Jas. F. Chambers, Jr. Youth Fitness Park on Tuesday, October 27, from 7 to 9 p.m. Crayon Club invites you to join the festivities, which will include pumpkin decorating, lawn games and live musical entertainment by Larson & the Law. Guests can munch on sandwiches, sliders and quesadillas from The Butcher’s Son food truck and custard from Super Chix.

During Truck or Treat, attendees can also take a guided tour of the hospital and hear testimonials from two current staff members to learn how TSRHC helps children with orthopedic and neurological disorders.

Staff Joanna Pool, Andrea Brown

TSRHC Staff Joanna Pool and Andrea Brown will be speaking about their experiences working at TSRHC.

Support a Good Cause for the Community

Even if you are not a member of Crayon Club, individuals dedicated to improving the lives of children can find community at Truck or Treat and network with like-minded people.

If you want to attend the event, you can buy tickets in advance at tsrhc.org/truckortreat for $20 if you’re a Crayon Club member or $25 for non-members. Ticket price will increase at the door. Invite your friends, colleagues, and family members to join you in support of this important children’s resource in the Dallas community.

All proceeds from the Truck or Treat event will benefit TSRHC and its care services for patients and pumpkins decorated will be given to the patients for Halloween. Since the hospital treats children regardless of the family’s ability to pay, proceeds from events like Truck or Treat help ensure that no families are denied quality medical care for their children.

trucktreat

Learn About Crayon Club

Crayon Club is an organization founded through TSRHC that unites young professionals who want to make a difference in children’s lives. The organization focuses on three goals: education, philanthropy, and volunteerism. Members are heavily involved in the community as well as TSRHC’s community and outreach endeavors.

If you’re interested in joining Crayon Club, visit tsrhc.org/crayonclub for more information or to purchase tickets for Truck or Treat.

North Texas Giving Day is Thursday, September 17

Keep Calm and Give On for North Texas Giving Day! For one day only, a portion of your gift of $25 or more given to TSRHC online at https://www.northtexasgivingday.org/#npo/texas-scottish-rite-hospital-for-children will earn bonus funds.

NTX Giving Day Eblast - PreEvent -FB 2About North Texas Giving Day

North Texas Giving Day is an online giving event that provides nonprofits the opportunity to gain exposure to — and start relationships with — new donors, and for people in North Texas to come together to raise as much money as possible for local nonprofits. In just six years, North Texas Giving Day has pumped more than $86 million into the North Texas community. In 2014, more than 98,000 gifts totaling $26.3 million benefited 1,580 nonprofits.

North Texas’ incredible generosity has broken the national record 3 years in a row! After last year’s national record-crushing 75,000 donations totaling $26.3 million, North Texas Giving Day is back with the hopes that North Texas will raise the giving day bar once again to benefit more North Texas nonprofits.

Join in this year’s effort between the hours of 6 a.m. and midnight on Thursday, September 17. Make your online donation to TSRHC here!

Note: Please note that gifts through NTGD may not be used to fulfill pledges or purchase tickets/sponsorships for Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children events. All proceeds will go directly where they are needed most…to insuring the health and happiness of our precious patients.

Chipotle is offering 50% of proceeds to TSRHC on Wednesday, June 17

This Wednesday, June 17, Chipotle is offering 50% of their proceeds to benefit Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children!

Just go to any Dallas/Fort Worth area Chipotle on Wednesday from 11 a.m. – 10 p.m. with this flyer (either printed or shown on your mobile device) or tell your cashier that you’re supporting Texas Scottish Rite Hospital.

It’s as easy as that! Enjoy your lunch and thank you for dining in support of TSRHC!

For locations, please visit www.chipotle.com.

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