Patient Story

Raising Awareness Around Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral Palsy patient, John Sugar

Patient John Sugar is grateful for the care he receives from Dr. Robert Bruce & his team at Emory Orthopaedics to manage his CP so he can live like a normal teen.

March is Cerebral Palsy (CP) awareness month. Cerebral Palsy is a term to describe a group of movement-related disorders that affect 2-3 of every 1,000 children.

Last year the United States Senate designated that March 25th is National Cerebral Palsy Awareness Day to honor those with CP. This day is to encourage people to become more informed and bring awareness to the disease. Those that want to show their support in raising Cerebral Palsy awareness are asked to wear something green on March 25th.

At the Emory Orthopaedics & Spine Center, we treat many pediatric patients with cerebral palsy. Cerebral Palsy is a life-long condition that affects the communication between the brain and the muscles.

CP can cause a variety of motor disabilities and issues ranging from very mild, with the child appearing to be slightly clumsy, to more severe movement issues, where the child may be unable to walk.

Emory Sports Medicine patient, Susie Hemphill: A Story of Recovery

Susie HemphillIn August 2008 I fell and hurt my ankle. Over the course of four years, I was treated by two different orthopaedic surgeons and was not able to participate in tennis or any other sports. This was devastating for me because I am an avid and accomplished tennis player. I was recruited out of high school in Illinois to play collegiate tennis at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. But as a result of my ankle injury, I struggled to walk. I almost gave up hope that I would ever play again after two failed ankle surgeries. It was so hard to even perform daily tasks that I was contemplating applying for disability benefits. I was miserable with life because I was in so much pain on a daily basis.

According to Emory Orthopaedic surgeon, Dr. Sam Labib, I had a condition in my ankle where there was no cartilage between my foot and ankle bone. Dr. Labib gave me hope and said he could repair the damage by taking cartilage from my knee and putting it in my ankle. On, August 23, 2012, I had cartilage repair surgery at Emory Orthopaedics & Spine Center in Atlanta with Dr. Labib. It’s been a little over a year and a half since the surgery and I just keep getting better and better. Now, I am happy to say that I am pretty much as good as new and back to playing tennis as much as I want. I even recently made it to the City Finals playing Atlanta Lawn and Tennis Association AA1 Women’s Tennis. It is hard for me to believe that I was unable to do anything for almost four years.

Thanks to Dr. Labib, I am also now back to doing what I love professionally. I am a United States Professional Tennis Coach. It is so great to be back playing and coaching. I owe it all to Dr. Sam Labib. Dr. Labib is a caring, compassionate, exceptional, talented, driven doctor and I owe him the world for fixing me and giving my life back. I highly recommend Dr. Labib to any patient who has a similar condition.

About Dr. Sameh (Sam) Labib

Dr. Sameh Labib

Sam Labib, MD, is a sports medicine fellowship-trained surgeon and director of the foot and ankle service at Emory. Dr. Labib started practicing at Emory in 1999. He is an Associate Professor of Orthopedic Surgery.

He has lectured both nationally and internationally at many orthopedic meetings. His research has been published in several journals, including the JBJS, Arthroscopy, Foot and Ankle International and the American Journal of Orthopedics as well as numerous video presentations and book chapters. Dr. Labib is Board Certified in orthopedic surgery with additional subspecialty certification in Sports Medicine Surgery.

For the past 5 years, Dr. Labib has been nominated by his peers as one of “America’s Top Doctors” as tracked by CastleConnelly.com. Dr. Labib has a particular interest in problems and procedures of the knee, ankle, and foot. He is the head team physician for the athletic programs at Oglethorpe University and Spelman College, and an orthopaedic consultant to the Atlanta Falcons, Georgia Tech and Emory University.

About Emory Sports Medicine
The Emory Sports Medicine Center is a leader in advanced treatments for patients with orthopedic and sports-related injuries. From surgical sports medicine expertise to innovative therapy and athletic injury rehabilitation, our sports medicine physicians and specialists provide the most comprehensive treatment for athletic injuries in Atlanta and the state of Georgia. Constantly conducting research and developing new techniques, Emory sports medicine specialists are experienced in diagnosing and treating the full spectrum of sports injuries.
Our sports medicine patients range from professional athletes to those who enjoy active lifestyles and want the best possible outcomes and recovery from sports injuries. Our doctors are the sports medicine team physicians for the Atlanta Falcons and Georgia Tech and provide services for many additional professional, collegiate and recreational teams. Appointments for surgical second opinions or acute sports injuries are available within 48 hours. Call 404-778-7777 for an appointment.

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Atlanta Opera Violinist Back on Her Feet Thanks to Emory Orthopedists!

Fia Mancini Durrett, Atlanta Opera Orchestra Violinist and Emory patient, recently played her violin for Emory Sports Medicine physician Sam Labib, MD and his clinic staff. Fia made a deal with Dr. Labib that if he could help rid her of foot and back pain, she would play her violin for him in clinic.

Dr. Labib held up his end of the deal, so on her last visit to the Emory Orthopaedics & Spine Center, Fia brought her violin along.

ACL Tear & Repair Patient Story – Freddy Assuncao, MMA Fighter

ACL tear repair surgery MMA Fighter Freddy AssunacoAnterior Cruciate Ligament tears in the knee don’t just happen to athletes playing football or soccer. Emory’s Chief of Sports Medicine, Dr. John Xerogeanes, recently repaired an ACL tear for MMA fighter, Freddy Assuncao.

Assuncao tore his ACL in training, helping one of his teammates prepare for an upcoming fight. For the repair of his potentially career-jeopardizing knee injury, Assuncao sought out renowned ACL surgeon, Dr. Xerogeanes – who is affectionately known as “Dr. X” by patients and staffers at Emory Sports Medicine – and a strong team of experts on rehabbing professional athletes from the Emory Sports Medicine Center.

Collapsed Disc Spine Patient Races to Recovery

For years, triathlete Denise Novicki suffered from excruciating spinal pain in her lower back. Founder of Tri2Remember, a triathlon club that raises money to fight Alzheimer’s disease, Denise had always led an active lifestyle, but her back pain made it difficult, if not impossible, to enjoy her favorite pastime.

“I was in such immense pain that I was looking for some very trusted resources to manage my pain,” Denise says. She chose the Emory Spine Center at the Emory University Orthopaedics & Spine Hospital for assessment and a solution.

“What we’ve tried to do here at the Emory Spine Center is take the worry and the guessing out of a spine or back problem,” says Dr. Scott Boden (pictured left), director of the Center. “When people come here, we help them figure out what’s wrong and give them lots of different options.”

Before the spine doctors at the Emory Spine Center suggest surgery, they investigate all possible nonsurgical interventions, but they also know that, in some cases, a simple surgery may make the difference between experiencing debilitating pain and living pain free.

To find out the cause of her back pain, Denise met with spine surgeon Dr. John Heller, who discovered that she had a collapsed disc. It was clear to Dr. Heller that surgery would bring Denise relief and allow her to get her life back. “Denise came to us seeking advice on how to improve back pain that had really gotten in the way of her normal lifestyle,” says Dr. Heller. “She was an avid athlete and was having tremendous difficulty maintaining a training regiment, let alone a normal, everyday life.”

Before her spine surgery, Denise signed up for an upcoming Ironman distance race. She wanted to be sure she had a goal in place that would help her stay focused on recovery. She achieved her goal. “Coming into doing the Ironman, I had a different perspective than probably most athletes do, because I came to the table with thankfulness that I am actually able to compete. I did what I set out to do, and I couldn’t have done it without the team at Emory.” To learn more about Denise’s experience with spine surgery at Emory, check out the short video below:

Dr. Boden says, “The thing I love about taking care of patients with spine problems is that we have a real opportunity to help patients get their lives back, and that’s a very special thing.”

Dr. Scott BodenThe spine doctors at the Emory Spine Center are dedicated to excellent spine care. “Some places, people are part-time spine and part-time hips and knees, but what’s unique about our group is that everybody primarily focuses on taking care of patients with spine problems, teaching trainees who are learning about the spine, and doing research to try and explore new and better ways to treat spinal problems,” says Dr. Boden (pictured left). “If you end up coming to Emory University Orthopaedics & Spine Hospital, you’ll leave saying that you’ve never been in a hospital that’s anything like it.”

Have you had spinal surgery at the Emory Spine Center? We’d like to hear about your experience. Please take a moment to give us feedback in the comments section below.

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Female High School Soccer Players 64% More Likely to Suffer from Concussions Than Males

Female athletes concussion riskShe’s only 16, but she’s already been playing soccer for over a decade. In that time, Alex Anne Matthews, a junior at the Lovett School in the Buckhead area of Atlanta, has broken several bones and sustained two concussions. Unfortunately, according to a new study, the injuries Alex has sustained over her currently 12-year-long soccer career are not only common, but more common for female high school soccer players than males.

During a soccer game on September 4th of this year, Alex hit the ground with force. “She came up from behind me and slide-tackled my feet out from under me, and I landed on my side, and the first thing to hit the ground was my head,” she recalls. Alex’s parents looked on as it happened, and as her mother, Anne Matthews puts it, “Alex Anne got up like she always does and staggered a little to her right. And Chip and I looked at each other and went, ‘that doesn’t look good.”

Despite a noticeable headache, Alex charged on and played in a second soccer game that same afternoon, but it wasn’t too long before routine concussion symptoms: nausea, dizziness, and blurred vision set in. According to Dr. Kenneth Mautner of Emory Sports Medicine, “There’s actually sheering forces that occur inside the brain, and the brain literally gets shaken inside the skull.”

But, according to a new study, it’s much more common (64% more common, in fact)  for female high school soccer players such as Alex  to sustain concussions than it is for males playing the same sport. So what makes concussions more common for female soccer players? Dr. Mautner says it could be a few things.

“Something just as simple as girls report concussions more because they’re more likely to say when they’re hurt and not feeling well,” according to Mautner, could be one reason. There is also evidence to show that stronger neck muscles in men and their ability to absorb shock more effectively may lower their concussion risk, or that hormones may make female athletes more susceptible to sustaining an injury.

Female athletes may also take longer to recover from concussions. For both men and women, however, Dr. Mautner emphasizes the importance of not returning to the field too soon. “There’s no one test to say you’re ready or you’re not ready, so we see how their symptoms are. They need to be completely asymptomatic at rest, they need to be asymptomatic with exertion.”

The findings of the study are not intended to alarm parents or child athletes, but rather, to help raise awareness around concussion symptoms and the importance of taking heed to them when they present themselves. Nausea, headaches, confusion, drowsiness, sensitivity to noise and dizziness are a few of the most common concussion symptoms.

Thankfully for Alex, six weeks after sustaining her most recent concussion, she is back on the field and pursuing her next goal, to play soccer in college. We’ll be keeping an eye out for her on ESPN in the coming years.

For more information on Dr. Mautner or Emory Sports Medicine, visit: www.emoryhealthcare.org/sports-medicine

Patient Story: Cynthia & Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery

Did you know spine surgery can now be done with only a small incision? Minimally invasive spine surgery is a relatively new set of techniques that has opened up surgery as an option for people who might otherwise have continued to suffer without surgery.

Patients often have the preconceived notion that spinal surgery will put them in bed and unable to walk for a long period of time. The fact is most spinal surgery does not lead to such a disabled state. And with minimally invasive surgery, patients can get back on their feet, out the hospital, and back to their normal routine faster than they’d ever have thought possible.

Cynthia Burnett is a great example of a patient who’s had minimally invasive spine surgery at Emory with excellent the results. In 2008, 56-year-old Cynthia Burnett woke up one day with excruciating nerve pain down her leg. Over the next two years, she suffered with this pain, despite multiple epidural injections. The pain just would not go away, even with the best non-operative treatment. Cynthia said she felt as if she’d aged 10 years. Her daughter recommended she come to Emory, where Cynthia saw one of our physiatrists, a nonsurgical physician who specializes in diagnosing and treating spine pain. He diagnosed a spinal stenosis (nerve pinch) and a slippage of one of her vertebrae on another. After careful analysis and discussions of options, she was told she’d be a good candidate for surgery. That’s when Cynthia came to me to discuss the surgical option.

At first, Cynthia didn’t want surgery. She said later, “My big concern about having surgery was the invasiveness. I’m healthy. I don’t go to the doctor very much. I haven’t been very sick. I just really didn’t want to choose to go under the knife.”

While not all cases can be treated with minimally invasive techniques, Cynthia was a great candidate for minimally invasive surgery. If this had not been the case, we could have used a traditional surgical technique with good results. But it would have required using, a relatively large incision to visualize the problem areas of the spine, thus a longer recovery time.

VIDEO: Cynthia’s Story of Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery

Instead, with Cynthia, we used highly specialized retractors that are placed through small incisions with X-ray guidance to minimize the soft tissue damage. Through these small incisions, the spinal nerves were decompressed (“unpinched”), and the slipped vertebra was stabilized with a spinal fusion procedure. The factors that enabled me to do this include advanced surgical instruments, advanced imaging systems (three-dimensional computer-guided navigation), and years of surgical experience. These things lead to surgical results that are safer, less invasive, and more reliable than ever before.

Cynthia had the surgery December 16, 2010. Afterward, she said, “It was amazing to me how easy it was to walk around, and my nerve pain was gone immediately.” Cynthia also said, “It’s amazing to think they could do that with the small incision that I have. I wish I had done it years ago. And I’ve already told other people who are in pain, you need to go.”  She was truly thrilled. At Emory, our goal is to get patients back to health as quickly as possible. That’s what minimally invasive surgery is all about.

Have you had minimally invasive spine surgery, or would you like to learn more about minimally invasive spine surgery at Emory? We welcome your questions and feedback in the comments section below.

Dr. Tim Yoon, spine surgeonAbout S. Tim Yoon, MD:
S. Tim Yoon, MD, PhD, specializes in minimally invasive surgery and is assistant professor of orthopedic surgery and chief of Orthopedics at the Veterans Administration Medical Center at Atlanta. He is board certified in orthopedic surgery. Dr. Yoon started practicing at Emory in 2000.