Sharing Mayo Clinic

Stories from patients, family, friends and Mayo Clinic staff

Neurology & Neurosurgery

June 26th, 2016

Former Soldier, Stroke Survivor Tells of Life Punctuated by Commas

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

Former senior airman, R. Brady Johnson, survived a cerebral hemorrhage and stroke.When stroke survivor R. Brady Johnson first visited Mayo Clinic nearly nine years ago, his doctors didn't quite know what to make of him. Not only was his stroke, at age 31, unusual, but his post-stroke physicality surprised the team of neurologists he'd come to see.

It had been just over a year since Brady, who lives in Belvedere, Illinois, had a major stroke during a surgery to mitigate a cerebral hemorrhage. The stroke cost him the sensation in his right side, the ability to speak, to run, and a litany of other abilities. Yet, in the time between the stroke and visiting Mayo, the former senior airman for the U.S. Air Force and marathon runner had managed to coax his body to do things that his rehabilitation team initially said would be impossible.

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Tags: Cerebral Hemorrhage, Neurology & Neurosurgery, neurosurgery, stroke


May 31st, 2016

Mayo Physician Is One of the First Proton Beam Patients in Arizona

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

Dr. Leslie Milde was one of the first proton beam therapy patients in Arizona. People often don't hear the phrase, "You are the most important person in my life today," especially from those other than family. However, Leslie Milde, M.D., has heard it often — from her patients. She is well aware of the significance of her role in the operating room, and the apprehension felt by patients about to undergo surgery.

Now the tables are turned, and as one of the first five patients undergoing proton beam therapy at the newly opened Mayo Clinic Building in Phoenix, Dr. Milde, former chair of Mayo's Department of Anesthesiology in Arizona, is relying on key people in her own life — the team of specialists treating her spinal meningioma, a condition where tumors arise from the membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord. Read the rest of this entry »

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Tags: Arizona campus, Dr Leslie Milde, Dr Naresh Patel, Dr Sujay Vora, Proton Beam Therapy, Spinal Meningioma, oncology, radiation therapy


May 23rd, 2016

Celebrating 40 Twice as Nice After Recovery From Surprising Stroke

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

Sherry Pinkstaff, Ph.D., enjoys time with family after a stroke.It was the Sunday after Thanksgiving, and despite having house guests, Sherry Pinkstaff, Ph.D., awoke at 6 a.m., just as she did every day, and began planning her morning run.

Sherry, then 39, ran daily. Exercise was important to her. After all, she’d made it her career. She was a professor of physical therapy at the University of North Florida in Jacksonville and a research collaborator at Mayo Clinic's Florida campus. She spends her days teaching students and patients about the power of exercise and its impact on cardiovascular health.

Climbing out of bed on this morning, though, she recalls feeling “off.” Although she initially shrugged off that feeling, she would quickly realize this was the first of several signs something more serious was in play.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Tags: Cardiovascular Diseases, Comprehensive Stroke Center, Dr Benjamin Brown, Florida Campus, Patent Foramen Ovale, Sherry Pinkstaff, stroke


April 1st, 2016

A New Weapon in the Arsenal for Patient With Stubborn Cancer: Proton Beam Therapy

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

AudraPopp805

Audra Popp has a rare tumor – anaplastic pleomorphic xanthoastrocytoma, also known as anaplastic PXA. Only a handful of people are diagnosed with this condition each year. Audra is the first person at Mayo Clinic with anaplastic PXA to be treated with proton beam therapy.

Audra had 20 proton beam therapy sessions to try to destroy fast-growing cells possibly left behind after surgery.

But proton beam therapy is just the latest step in the battle against Audra's tumor. She's had five craniotomies since 2001, and she has a scar from her right ear to the crown of her head as evidence. She had surgeries at Mayo in 2007, 2009, 2014 and 2015. She also has had three regimens of chemotherapy through the years and six weeks of radiation therapy at Mayo Clinic in 2007.

The tumor has become more aggressive. And each time her surgeons think they have it completely removed, it comes back. Read the rest of this entry »

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Tags: anaplastic PXA, clinical trials, craniotomy, Dr Jan Buckner, Dr Nadia Laack, Mayo Clinic Cancer Center, Proton Beam Therapy


March 19th, 2016

Back in the Symphony After Surgery to Remove Brain Tumor

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

Stewart Rosen in back in tune after surgery for acoustic neuroma.Stewart Rosen was beyond anxious when he learned he had a tumor the size of a walnut by his right ear. The tumor was benign. But Stewart, an accountant by day and violinist by night, worried that removing the tumor, an acoustic neuroma, might affect his ability to play music.

"I'd never had any kind of surgery or hospitalization before," he says. And with the surgery he'd need to remove this tumor, Stewart knew that he'd lose hearing in his right ear. That wasn't all. "I was afraid a facial nerve might become paralyzed or my vision would be affected," he says.

Stewart noticed a change in his hearing in his right ear, and a friend had recommended he see an ENT (ear, nose and throat) specialist. That doctor detected a major difference in hearing between Stewart's ears and ordered an MRI to rule out a brain tumor. Unfortunately, the MRI pointed to an acoustic neuromaRead the rest of this entry »

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Tags: Acoustic Neuroma, Audiology, Dr Michael Link, ENT, neurosurgery, Rochester Campus, Dr Colin Driscoll


November 12th, 2015

Restoring Mobility and Hope After Traumatic Motorcycle Crash

By Hoyt Finnamore HoytFinnamore

Troy Chroniger enjoys time with his daughters after brachial plexus surgery.

Troy Chroniger enjoyed a busy, if hectic, life in Orlando, Florida, as a construction estimator and dad to three daughters. To relax, Troy, age 43, enjoyed sports and an occasional motorcycle ride with friends. Life changed dramatically one Saturday in November 2011, when he was out for a ride, hit a rough patch of road, veered and collided with a guardrail. He was rushed to a hospital in Orlando, where doctors diagnosed him with a debilitating brachial plexus injury.

"It was one of the worst the doctor said he'd seen," Troy recalls the physician saying. Of the five nerves that make up the brachial plexus in the shoulder, Troy suffered a complete nerve evulsion injury. His doctor referred him to Mayo Clinic, which performs hundreds of brachial plexus procedures annually.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Tags: brachial Plexus, Dr Peter Murray, Florida Campus, neurosurgery, Orthopedics


October 5th, 2015

Lifetime of Seeking an Answer Finally Rewarded With a Diagnosis

By Uma Thangaraj uthangaraj

Stacy Carlson with familyStacy Carlson was born with congenital myasthenic syndrome, and although she received a number of opinions throughout her life, it wasn’t until age 44 that she received a definitive diagnosis. It was after her local physician referred her to Andrew Engel, M.D., a neurologist at Mayo Clinic, that DNA testing confirmed a particular gene fault responsible for Stacy's ills.

Stacy would learn that she had congenital myasthenic syndrome, an inherited neuromuscular disorder caused by defects of several types at the neuromuscular junction. It was a long road getting to that diagnosis.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Tags: congenital myasthenic syndrome, Dr Andrew Engel, Scoliosis


August 26th, 2015

Experimental Nerve Graft Puts Former Green Beret Back on his Feet

By Hoyt Finnamore HoytFinnamore

Kevin Flike with his daughter, Lilah. Others might have panicked, but former U.S. Special Forces Engineer Kevin Flike kept his wits about him when he was shot in the abdomen during a firefight in Afghanistan four years ago. Through the worst pain of his life, the Green Beret pushed forward. He radioed his injury to teammates and began assessing the wound, which appeared mortal to his unit’s medic.

“I wanted to remain calm because I knew if I wasn’t, it was going to make the situation worse,” says Kevin, who, at 27, was one of the senior members in his unit. As it was, the situation was bad. The bullet tore through his lower abdomen, breaking his hip, damaging his colon, and ripping apart his left femoral nerve.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Tags: Dr Robert Spinner, Dr Scott Zietlow, nerve graft, neurosurgery, Peripheral Nerve Injury


August 5th, 2015

Turning off the Tremors — Deep Brain Stimulation Helps Patient Enjoy Little Things Again

By Hoyt Finnamore HoytFinnamore

Mary Daugherty is now able to enjoy the little things like flying a kite after a deep brain stimulation procedure to stop her tremor. Mary Daugherty just wanted to sit still. For nearly four decades, the 73-year-old experienced tremors in her hands, arms and head. In 2014, she decided to do something about it.

Mary’s journey began when she was in her mid-30s and started to notice a slight trembling in her upper extremities. “I thought I just got excited or nervous, scared or tired,” she says. “When others started remarking on my tremors, I decided to seek a medical explanation.”  Read the rest of this entry »

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Tags: Deep Brain Stimulation, Dr Kendall Lee, Essential Tremor, neurosurgery


June 12th, 2015

Spina Bifida Won’t Slow Down Ty Wiberg

By Hoyt Finnamore HoytFinnamore

Ty Wiberg received his black belt in karate this past spring, despite mobility challenges caused by spina bifida. If everyone else can do it, why can’t I?

If Ty Wiberg, a 13-year-old from Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, has one guiding principle in life, that might be the one.

The Chippewa Falls Middle School student has undergone 16 surgeries, walks with braces and uses a wheelchair for distance. Ty was born with spina bifida, a spinal cord malformation. He also suffers from hydrocephalus, a buildup of fluid in the brain for which a tube-like shunt drains excess fluid. And he has limited sensation from the knees down, among other issues.

Not that any of that is slowing him down.

Ty mono-skis, distance races with his wheelchair, scuba dives, plays wheelchair basketball, swims and does karate. This past winter, he spent a week at a downhill ski camp in Colorado for kids with disabilities and injured veterans. This spring, he recently received his black belt in karate.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Tags: Dr Jane Byrd, Dr Sherilyn Driscoll, Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Spina Bifida, Spina Bifida Clinic


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