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Stories from patients, family, friends and Mayo Clinic staff

Neurology & Neurosurgery

May 23rd, 2016 · 1 Comment

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 · Leave a Comment

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 · 1 Comment

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 · Leave a Comment

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 · 1 Comment

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 · 1 Comment

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 · 6 Comments

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 · Leave a Comment

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


May 11th, 2015 · Leave a Comment

Brain Hemorrhage Can’t Keep Cyclist From Pedaling On

By Cynthia (Cindy) Weiss cindyweiss

Donnie continues to recover from a brain hemorrhage that caused a stroke.

At age 42, Donnie DeWitt was the picture of health. A former Marine, he loved to run, surf and was an avid cyclist. But three years ago, while on a bike ride near his home in St. Augustine, Florida, Donnie collapsed. He’d suffered a massive brain hemorrhage that led to a stroke.

He was brought to Mayo Clinic’s Comprehensive Stroke Center in Jacksonville, where physicians said the damage was so extensive that Donnie had less than a five percent chance of survival.

“We didn’t know if he was going to live, what the outcome would be,” says Belinda, Donnie’s wife. Read the rest of this entry »

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Tags: brain hemorrhage, Florida Campus, stroke, Comprehensive Stroke Center, Dr Ronald Reimer


May 4th, 2015 · Leave a Comment

Young Stroke Survivor Raises Awareness and Educates

By Cynthia (Cindy) Weiss cindyweiss

Young stroke survivor Amy Edmunds and Dr. David Miller, director of the Comprehensive Stroke Center at Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida

Young stroke survivor Amy Edmunds and David Miller, M.D., director of the Comprehensive Stroke Center at Mayo Clinic's Florida campus.

Editor's Note: This guest post is written by Amy Edmunds, founder of YoungStroke.

In 2002, I was a daily commuter to Capitol Hill who worked in sales management. Never did I think I would someday return to testify as a patient advocate at Congressional hearings on behalf of young stroke survivors. But then again, never did I expect to be a stroke survivor at age 45.

On Jan. 11, 2002, with no identified risk factors and no family history, I had an ischemic stroke. Initially, my mother observed my repeating phrases during conversation. Next, she witnessed my temporary blindness. Today, I have no recollection of these events. And my resulting deficit remains some long-term memory loss.

Like many, I mistakenly assumed stroke was an affliction of the elderly. As I attempted to learn more about my own experience, I learned approximately 30 percent of people who suffer a stroke each year are under age 65. And women are at an increased risk for stroke. So, too, are African American individuals – many of whom have significant aftereffects.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Tags: stroke, Dr David Miller, Comprehensive Stroke Center, Florida Campus


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