July 21st, 2016
By Linda Binner
As senior captain of her high school volleyball team, Brooke Johnson was determined to lead her squad to the state tournament. Never mind that the team hadnâ€™t made it there before. Or that her small school had never sent any athletic team to a state tournament. Or that Brooke had health issues that made playing a challenge. Not even that she required extensive hip surgery four months before the season started. None of that mattered to Brooke.
â€śI was convinced we could do it,â€ť she says. â€śThatâ€™s what I was working toward, and I refused to give up.â€ť
The obstacles in her path were significant. Her team at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, worked with Brooke, though, to see her through to her goal. And in November 2015, her Heritage Christian Academy volleyball team made its first appearance in the Minnesota state high school tournament, earning third place overall.Â Read the rest of this entry »
May 29th, 2016
Just six months ago, every step for Amarachi Austin-Okoh was filled with pain. The 11-year-old from Nigeria had enough trouble walking. Things like running, playing tag or playing basketball seemed like a dream. But now they're things she can look forward to, thanks to a life-changing trip to Mayo Clinic.
Amarachi has a condition called Blount's disease. Her mother, Modesther Austin-Okoh, says the family discovered the condition with Amarachi was just two years old.
Todd Milbrandt, M.D., an orthopedic surgeon atÂ Mayo Clinic Children's Center, describes Blount's disease as "a failure of the growth plate to grow on the inside of the knee, specifically, the top part of the tibia." In Amarachi's case, her disease progressed to the point where she had severely bowed legs.
"We wish we could have seen her walk and be like other children," her mother says. "We were always crying for her."Â Read the rest of this entry »
May 21st, 2016
Jim Biles, M.D., understands cancer treatment. A urologist who specializes in cancer surgery, he has spent his career focused on helping people receive the cancer care they need. So at age 72, when Dr. Biles received his own diagnosis of an aggressive type of cancer, he knew how critical it would be to get treatment from someone with experience and expertise.
"When I found out I had a bone tumor, I started hunting around to see who could do the surgery. It turned out that there are very few people in the world I would trust with it," he says. "Not many do it, and even fewer have the experience that Dr. Sim does. He is the kingpin."
Dr. Sim is Franklin Sim, M.D., an orthopedic surgeon at Mayo Clinic's Rochester, Minnesota, campus. After a consultation with Dr. Sim, Jim decided to go through with a complex surgery at Mayo to treat his cancer.
"Being a doctor, I was pretty picky about all the details being well managed," he says. "It was exceptional. I really couldn't have had a better experience."Â Read the rest of this entry »
April 13th, 2016
Camden Christopherson is an athlete: volleyball, basketball, softball, cross-country. She does them all. So when doctors told her, at age 13, that she had to wear a brace for 22 hours a day to combat scoliosis, and surgery to fuse her spine was likely in her future, Camden was devastated.
These treatments could help correct the severe spinal curve that had developed quickly during a growth spurt, her doctors said. But Camden didn't want to give up her flexibility and freedom of movement. And her mother, Teresa Christopherson, wasn't ready to accept that a brace and fusion surgery were her daughter's only choices.
"I wanted a second opinion," Teresa says. "I wasn't going to go forward based on one recommendation, so we went to Mayo."
At Mayo Clinic's campus in Rochester, Minnesota, mother and daughter met A. Noelle Larson, M.D., an orthopedic surgeon, who discussed another possibility with them: anterior vertebral body tethering, or VBT, a new surgery for scoliosis that doesn't involve fusing vertebrae together. It was just the answer they needed.Â Read the rest of this entry »
March 23rd, 2016
But, when she was 10, Paige inadvertently hit her left knee while bouncing on a trampoline. Though she had no visible cuts, pain radiated up and down her leg.
Later, Paige would say, â€śIt felt like I had a BB pellet stuck in there.â€ť
Her knee became so sensitive that the slightest touch or inadvertent bump would â€śbring excruciating pain, sending me to the ground, screaming and crying,â€ť she recalls.
Paige visited countless doctors near her home in Ocala, Florida, trying different medications, topical treatments and steroid injections. The pain persisted. After an exploratory surgery in 2001, doctors told her she had a neuroma, an area of increased sensitivity and pain that often develops after physical trauma to a nerve. They said removing it should resolve the issues.
It did, but only for a short time. Then the pain returned. Read the rest of this entry »
February 3rd, 2016
David Edming, of Rice Lake, Wisconsin, didnâ€™t want to slow down when he retired. TheÂ U.S. Navy veteran, age 56, took up aviation and purchased a powered parachute ultralight aircraft â€” a three-wheeled machine with a propeller that ascends when wind fills an attached parachute.
â€śThe thing with a powered parachute is you only fly in perfect weather,â€ť David says. He found that perfect weather on July 2, 2013Â -- aÂ beautiful day with no windÂ -- andÂ he took off from his hay field to pass by a local golf course, just as he had done many times.
After his flyby, he tried to increase altitude while making a turn, which was standard procedure.Â But this time, something went wrong. Although the wing should have caught the wind, it insteadÂ curled under, sending him into a nosedive. Read the rest of this entry »
November 12th, 2015
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 debilitatingÂ 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.Â Read the rest of this entry »
July 20th, 2015
When Virgil Jernigan came to Mayo Clinic for foot surgery, he was in for a lifesaving surprise.Â During an exam before his surgery, he mentioned to his nurse practitioner that he had been feeling fatigued and short of breath. So she ordered cardiac testing. Virgil was shocked to learn he had a leaking mitral valve â€“ a potentially life-threatening heart condition.Â Read the rest of this entry »
February 24th, 2015
Mark Pearce jokes that, "If something's going to happen, it's going to happen to me." That sentiment isn't hard to understand in someone who has had eight joint replacements (knees, hips and shoulders â€“ some more than once), has been cardioverted 18 times to restore normal heart rhythm, and had surgery for a brain tumor. Among other things. What may be harder to understand is how he's kept an amazingly positive attitude through it all.
For Mark, it starts with gratitude.
"I feel like being treated like royalty here," he says of his experience at Mayo Clinic. "It's amazing. And if there's any way that I could say thank you to the physicians here and to the complete staff â€¦ I wouldn't be alive today if it wasn't for you."
Mark came to Mayo Clinic in the 1980s for a procedure physicians in his home state of Michigan were hesitant to perform because of his prior neck fractures. At Mayo Clinic, he found physicians who were able to perform the procedure and manage things when his care got complicated. Since then, he's had his left knee replaced twice, and the right, once; three hip replacements; and two shoulder replacements. Brain surgery. Cardioversion and heart procedures. And a gastric bypass procedure to combat the weight gain cause by his pituitary tumor. Read the rest of this entry »
July 28th, 2014
At age 39, Tom Peroulas was active and fit. Coaching and playing rugby, biking to work in downtown Chicago, and exercising daily kept him in good shape. So when he started noticing pain in his leg, groin and hip, he thought it was probably related to activity. He tried stretching and yoga. He rested it. He worked with a physical therapist. Nothing helped.
After several months of persistent pain, Tom turned to his doctor, who referred him to a specialist in orthopedics. By the time he turned 40, in April 2013, tests revealed the startling reason for his discomfort: an uncommon kind of cancer called chondrosarcoma that begins in the cartilage around bones. The cancer was affecting Tom's hip socket, or acetabulum. But although the source of the pain had become clear, the best way to deal with it had not.
Faced with a wide range of surgical options, Tom dove into researching his choices. After an exhaustive search that had him talking with physicians as far away as Canada and Europe, he decided to go to Mayo Clinic. Using a unique technique for hip reconstruction, the orthopedic surgery Tom had at Mayo allowed him to return to his life with the cancer removed and chances good that he won't need another reconstruction in the future.Â Read the rest of this entry »