GREENFIELD — For the past year, some Greenfield senior citizens have been sewing, stuffing and stitching teddy bears for ill children at Shriners Hospitals for Children in Springfield.

The effort was part of GVNA Adult Day Health Services’ community service project. Several dozen seniors, patients at the 489 Bernardston Road health care center, made 108 teddy bears, in addition to 10 tied fleece blankets, to send to the hospital.

A few students from Franklin County Technical School also helped with the project.

“This is awesome. I can’t thank you enough,” said Anthony J. Leroux, a member of the Shriners, a fraternal organization attached to the Freemasons.

Leroux and Donald Carberry, a director at the hospital, arrived at GVNA on Friday to receive the teddy bears and blankets, and to personally thank the seniors that made them.

“Faith, hope and charity, that’s what we stand for,” said Leroux, explaining that the Springfield hospital was the second of 22 Shriners’ children’s hospitals built around the world.

Carberry also pointed out that Shriners is run largely through donations, and support from public groups like that at GVNA is crucial. Roughly 19,000 children will be treated for conditions like scoliosis, cleft palates and chest wall deformities at the Springfield hospital this year, Carberry said.

“The gifts we receive, it lets the kids take something fun physically home with them from the hospital,” Carberry said.

According to GVNA Activity Coordinator Julie Clark, the seniors themselves chose the Shriners hospital as the recipient of their charity. They also chose to give teddy bears to the hospital last year, the first year of the GVNA community service project.

“I went to Shriners hospital in 2007 for scoliosis, myself,” Clark said.

Clark added that while the program allowed the group to do something special for children in need, it also taught them the valuable skills of sewing and knitting, fun things the seniors will be able to do in their spare time.

“When I started five years ago, a bunch of you wanted to learn to sew,” Clark said to the crowd. “Last year, we made 108 teddy bears, and this year we just made another 108.”

Facebook Twitter Google Digg Reddit LinkedIn Pinterest StumbleUpon Email

 – Leigha Boatwright is back to following her dreams after a local doctor successfully performed a surgery to fix the 12-year-old’s scoliosis that others said was too difficult.

Alecia Coleman, Leigha’s mother, says she started noticing a difference in her daughter’s posture, and her ability to stand up straight.

“We were worried about her having health issues and health concerns, as well as having physical issues that may have affected her confidence as a pre-teen or a teenage girl,” Coleman said.

Dr. David Siambanes says Leigha’s issues with her spine were the result of a rapid growth spurt. It happened so quickly that there was no time to use a brace or other conservative remedies.

“She ended up with a very severe curve, of severe magnitude,” Dr. Siambanes said. “And a very stiff curve, you can tell it’s very stiff because we do side-bending x-rays where you can tell the flexibility of the spine.”

To correct it, he says flexibility was needed. He used a scope to release the disks between the bone to help the curve. Then, an incision was made on the back of the spine.

“The best thing about these procedures is it stops the progression of that deformity, it stops it from getting worse,” Dr. Siambanes explained. “Her spine is nearly straight. She’ll have no difference in back pain, or impairments or restrictions or anything that any other child her age will have, that we can tell. So it really has changed her future.”

Leigha wears a bone stimulator every day to fuse the bones together and help promote them to grow straight with the rods.

According to the National Institutes of Health, Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis affects an estimated two to three percent of children in the U.S., but the severe curve of Leigha’s spine, Dr. Siambanes said, is even more rare.

Facebook Twitter Google Digg Reddit LinkedIn Pinterest StumbleUpon Email

On the fifth year anniversary of his scoliosis surgery, Travis and his family reflect on their experience after they received devastating news. 

At a young age, North Tonawanda-native Travis Barke was diagnosed with scoliosis during a routine physician with his family doctor. By the time he was 20 years old, surgery became essential, as his spine had curved to a dramatic 58-degree angle, puttinghis powerlifting career to a stop. In December 2012, Travis underwent an eight-hour spinal surgery with Dr. Christopher Hamill at Buffalo General Medical Center. The procedure consisted of inserting two rods and 17 screws into his back to straighten his spine. 

Post-surgery, Travis’s doctors and physical therapist recommended that change his career from powerlifting to a low-impact, desk job. Although Travis was devastated, he was determined to find a way to get back to the gym and powerlifting.

A year after his surgery, Dr. Hamill gave Travis the green light to slowly return to his former lifestyle. He headed back to gym, unsure of how much his body could handle. He started by lifting just 45 pounds, but after several years of training, Travis now liftsover 500 pounds and regularly competes in lifting competitions. Before surgery, his record was 315 pounds. He credits the additional 185 pounds to his mental endurance.

Travis has since won three first place competitions by the United States Powerlifting Association, and completed his certification as a certified personal trainer from NCCC, helping others achieve their fitness goals. 

He now lives a pain free life, and is a prime example of how a dedicated and determined person can work alongside their medical team to safely achieve their dreams. 


Displaying 01.jpg

Facebook Twitter Google Digg Reddit LinkedIn Pinterest StumbleUpon Email

Thirteen-year-old Tamsin Clark has a lot on her plate.

She is a seventh-grader at Fowler School where she plays goalie for the soccer team. She plays clarinet, hangs out with friends, does homework, and, as if that weren’t enough, she spends several hours a week doing physical therapy to help strengthen her back.

When Tamsin was 11, she was diagnosed with scoliosis and is currently undergoing treatment at Emerson Hospital, where she was recently featured in the hospital’s marketing magazine.

Tamsin was diagnosed by her pediatrician and referred to a specialist. Scoliosis is a sideways curvature of the spine that typically occurs just before puberty, and about two years after her diagnosis, Tamsin’s curve had progressed to the point that a brace was necessary. Amy Gay, Tamsin’s mother, said the doctor told them there was little chance of improving the curve and a 30 percent chance it would get worse, which could mean back surgery for Tamsin.

Gay didn’t like those odds. Sciolisis most often occurs in girls who are tall and thin, which describes Tamsin. In addition, Gay’s mother-in-law, Tamsin’s grandmother, was diagnosed with scoliosis when it was too late for treatment. Left untreated, scoliosis can result in compromised cardiac and pulmonary function, said Gay.

″[Tamsin] had every risk factor,” said Gay, “and I wanted something more.”

Gay began researching other therapies, but it wasn’t until Tamsin broke her arm and they met Dr. John Cahoy, a pediatric orthopedic surgeon at Emerson Hospital that things began to turn in their favor.

Cahoy introduced them to the Schroth Method for scholiosis, which, while not widely accepted in the United States, has been successful for two decades in Europe. Cahoy told them he believed the new treatment could actually reverse the curvature.

Tamsin was fitted with a special brace, which she wears for more than 20 hours a day. She also does several hours of physical therapy every week to strengthen the muscles around her spine. In just a few months, her curve has decreased.

Tamsin takes it all in stride – even to wearing the brace outside her clothes, rather than trying to hide it.

“It’s just a hassle to wear it inside,” she said. “When people wear it on the inside they are afraid that people are going to judge them, but I don’t really care what people think.”

At first, she said, some people stared or looked away. Now, they are used to it. If people ask, she is pretty open to explaining why she wears it.

“Everyone is pretty accepting about it; they don’t really judge,” Tamsin said.

Tamsin will have to wear the brace until she stops growing, which she expects could be up to three years.

“Only about 3 percent of the population has scoliosis,” said Gay, “and only about 1 percent is braced.”

Emerson has established the first integrated scoliosis program in the region. The program provides oversight by a pediatric orthopedic surgeon, physical therapy with someone certified in the Schroth Method and an experienced orthotist who fits patients with a brace. All three doctors see patients in the same building in Westford.

Tamsin also attends a local chapter of Curvy Girls, a peer support group for teens diagnosed with scoliosis.

“I just like having someone who understands what I’m going through,” said Tamsin. “I have some pretty supportive friends but none of them really understand what it’s like.”

Gay is proud of the way her daughter is handling the diagnosis.

“It’s hard when you’re a kid to be diagnosed with anything,” she said. “It’s hard being a kid and hard being 13, and then having any challenge that is so physical. So on the one hand she makes it look really easy, but on the other hand it’s not easy.”

For information visit For information about Curvy Girls visit

Facebook Twitter Google Digg Reddit LinkedIn Pinterest StumbleUpon Email

A new study published in the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery examines how readmissions increase the total cost of care for spinal deformity surgery.


The study authors examined records from 659 patients who underwent adult spinal deformity surgery at a single center from 2005 to 2013. The costs are expressed in 2010 dollars. Study authors found:

1. The readmission rates were 24 percent overall, and cost around $10.1 million for the population studied.

2. Around 8.8 percent of the admissions occurred within the first 30 days after surgery, accounting for $3.2 million, and 11.7 percent of the readmissions occurred within the first 90 days, accounting for $4.6 million.

3. Pseudarthrosis was the most expensive readmission, costing around $92,755; infections and kyphosis were also expensive readmissions, costing around $75,172 and $66,713 respectively. As a result, the complications increased the average readmission cost by:

• Pseudarthrosis: 105 percent
• Infection: 72 percent
• Proximal junctional kyphosis: 63 percent

These three complications represented 73 percent of the costs for readmission.

4. Two years after surgery, the average readmission cost was $86,081.

5. The factors associated with increased risk for readmission include:

• Older age
• Eight or more levels fused
• Longer length of index stay at the hospital

6. The researchers reported patients who underwent thoracic only curve or double curve procedures and those who had an anterior-only or posterior-only approach were associated with lower costs.

“Although reducing the 30-day and 90-day readmission rates and costs are important, adult spinal deformity surgery is unique, because the most common and most expensive complications occur after one year,” concluded the study authors.

Facebook Twitter Google Digg Reddit LinkedIn Pinterest StumbleUpon Email

Authors Luhmann SJ, McAughey EM, Ackerman SJ, Bumpass DB, McCarthy RE

Received 3 October 2017

Accepted for publication 9 January 2018

Published 16 March 2018 Volume 2018:10 Pages 179—187


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewers approved by Dr Cristina Weinberg

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Professor Giorgio Lorenzo Colombo

Scott J Luhmann,1–3 Eoin M McAughey,4 Stacey J Ackerman,5 David B Bumpass,6 Richard E McCarthy6

1Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO, USA; 2Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, St. Louis Shriners Hospital, St. Louis, MO, USA; 3Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, St. Louis Children’s Hospital, St. Louis, MO, USA; 4Covance Market Access Services Inc., London, UK; 5Covance Market Access Services Inc., San Diego, CA, USA; 6Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Little Rock, AR, USA

Purpose: Treating early-onset scoliosis (EOS) with traditional growing rods (TGR) is effective but requires periodic surgical lengthening, risking complications. Alternatives include magnetically controlled growing rods (MCGR) that lengthen noninvasively and the growth guidance system (GGS), which obviate the need for active, distractive lengthenings. Previous studies have reported promising clinical effectiveness for GGS; however the direct medical costs of GGS compared to TGR and MCGR have not yet been explored.
Methods: To estimate the cost of GGS compared with MCGR and TGR for EOS an economic model was developed from the perspective of a US integrated health care delivery system. Using dual-rod constructs, the model estimated the cumulative costs associated with initial implantation, rod lengthenings (TGR, MCGR), revisions due to device failure, surgical-site infections, device exchange, and final spinal fusion over a 6-year episode of care. Model parameters were from peer-reviewed, published literature. Medicare payments were used as a proxy for provider costs. Costs (2016 US$) were discounted 3% annually.
Results: Over a 6-year episode of care, GGS was associated with fewer invasive surgeries per patient than TGR (GGS: 3.4; TGR: 14.4) and lower cumulative costs than MCGR and TGR, saving $25,226 vs TGR. Sensitivity analyses showed that results were sensitive to changes in construct costs, rod breakage rates, months between lengthenings, and TGR lengthening setting of care.
Conclusion: Within the model, GGS resulted in fewer invasive surgeries and deep surgical site infections than TGR, and lower cumulative costs per patient than both MCGR and TGR, over a 6-year episode of care. The analysis did not account for family disruption, pain, psychological distress, or compromised health-related quality of life associated with invasive TGR lengthenings, nor for potential patient anxiety surrounding the frequent MCGR lengthenings. Further analyses focusing strictly on current generation technologies should be considered for future research.

 early-onset scoliosis, cost analysis, growth guidance system, magnetically controlled growing rod, traditional growing rod

Facebook Twitter Google Digg Reddit LinkedIn Pinterest StumbleUpon Email

Kaitlyn McAfee, a December 2017 graduate from Collegiate High, is one of the top runners-up in Tennessee for the 2018 Prudential Spirit of Community Awards.  Ms. McAfee will receive an engraved bronze Distinguished Finalist medallion to commemorate the prestigious award.

Ms. McAfee became involved in fundraising for scoliosis research after her scoliosis diagnosis in 2012. “I felt ashamed and alone,” she said. “However, I knew I could not be the only one going through this, so I started a support group called Curve Scoliosis.” She started the group in hopes of connecting others dealing with scoliosis so that they would not have to feel alone.

Scoliosis can be treated, but not cured.

Facebook Twitter Google Digg Reddit LinkedIn Pinterest StumbleUpon Email

AN UP-BEAT dancer has fought through a spinal condition to win a national title.

The results of an x-ray on Shae Santiglia’s back when she was eight showed she had scoliosis, a condition where her spine was bent out of shape.

However, the 13-year-old from Glenroy was last month crowned national under-13 hip-hop dance champion at the Follow Your Dreams National Competitions.

Doctors encouraged Shae to dance as much as she could to keep active.

When she was diagnosed with scoliosis the bend in her spine was measured at 10 degrees, and has since grown to 30 degrees, but Shae hopes with the help of doctors she can limit long-term damage.

“We are trying to prevent it from getting worse and really hurt when I’m older,” she said. “I just kind of have to know when to stop, but it doesn’t really hurt when dancing.”

Shae is planning on returning to defend her title next year.

Facebook Twitter Google Digg Reddit LinkedIn Pinterest StumbleUpon Email

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — New advances are helping teenagers with a curvature of the spine– an often hidden condition called scoliosis.

Lindsay Gordon, 19,  does planks every night. The Penn freshman has scoliosis and this is how she keeps her core and back strong.

After being diagnosed when she was 12, Lindsay wore a brace for 4 years, 20 hours a day.

Dr. John Flynn, the chief of orthopedics at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, says Lindsay was able to avoid surgery because it was caught early.

“That’s the problem with scoliosis, it’s kind of silent, you don’t know you have it and you can have tremendous deformity on x-ray.”

“The brace is the only thing known to man that will halt the progression of curve scoliosis in a rapidly growing kid,” Flynn added.

Dr. Flynn says braces have become more sophisticated and even have sensors to make sure they’re being worn enough.

And the other innovation is with low dose x-rays.

“We can still see the spine with the same detail to make precise measurements of the curvature and yet the radiation dose to the patient is dramatically lower,” said Flynn.

Lindsay is fine now and excited about all the innovations to treat scoliosis

“ I think it’s amazing to see that development because they didn’t have those technologies when I was first starting out,” said Gordon.


Facebook Twitter Google Digg Reddit LinkedIn Pinterest StumbleUpon Email

A championship ballroom dancer who was forced to give up her passion due to a medical condition that caused her spine to be disfigured is now able to dance again following a life-changing experimental surgery that re-aligned her spine.

“The feeling when you’re on the dance floor … it’s amazing,” Anastasia Machenko, 17, told ABC News’ T.J. Holmes.

Despite being diagnosed with scoliosis, a disorder in which there is a sideways curve of the spine, according to the National Institutes of Health, Machenko said she thinks dancing is what she was meant to do.

Due to her scoliosis, however, the teen said experienced extreme pain while doing what she loved.

“It was like a stabbing. Like, a constant stabbing,” she said of the pain. “And it’s like somebody’s taking your spine and they’re literally holding it, like strangling it.”

Over the years her scoliosis worsened, and while she had the option of undergoing a fusion surgery that would permanently straighten her spine, it would have limited her flexibility so much that she would have had to give up dancing for good.

“I just didn’t want to give up,” Machenko said. “Something that you love to do … you do it no matter what.”

Despite her scoliosis, Machenko kept on dancing, aided by years of physical therapy and back braces.

In 2016, she and her partner won the National Ballroom Championships. At the time of her big win, however, her scoliosis was so disfiguring that her upper spine had a 76-degree curve and her lower spine had a 66-degree curve.

Machenko said that “many” doctors at that time told her she probably shouldn’t be dancing.

After winning the National Ballroom Championship, Machenko ultimately decided that the pain of dancing was just too much, and she said she thought that this would mark the end of her dancing career.

“It’s heartbreaking,” she said of her decision.

Shortly after, however, Machenko found Dr. Baron Lonner, a scoliosis Specialist at Mount Sinai Health Systems in New York, who offered an experimental, and not FDA approved, alternative treatment for scoliosis called tethering.

In this procedure, he attaches a flexible cord onto screws placed in the vertebrae. When the cord is tightened, it compresses the screws to straighten the spine.

“It preserves and maintains flexibility for the patient, as well as growth for those who are still growing,” Lonner told ABC News of the procedure.

Lonner stressed that while the preliminary results of tethering have been largely positive, it remains a new procedure with “some unknowns.”

“We do know our patients who are several years out are doing beautifully, but there are some unknowns,” he said. “How long will this flexible cord, this rope, last?”

“Our hope is to develop this procedure so that we will have cords that last a lifetime,” he added.

In July, Machenko underwent a full-day operation where Lonner removed four ribs and tethered her spine. Six weeks after the procedure, Machenko was a full two inches taller.

In a tearful exchange after the surgery, Machenko told Lonner: “You’ve changed my life, you’ve made it so much better, thank you so much.”

The teen told ABC News that she is now hoping to come out of retirement, and she hopes to continue dancing her “whole life.”

Machenko said she was inspired during her recovery by watching “Dancing With the Stars.” Her favorite professional dancer is Mark Ballas.

“I know every single one of his dances,” Machenko said today on “Good Morning America.” “Watching the show, it inspired me to get back.”

She added, “It [aired] around the same exact time as I was recovering and going to my physical therapist … When I came home I’d watch the show and I’m like, ‘Okay, I can do this.’”

Machenko was surprised on “GMA” by her idol, Ballas, who pretended to be an audience member asking a question.

Ballas, 31, instead asked Machenko for a hug and told her she inspired him. Machenko then had her dream of dancing with Ballas fulfilled.

“I dance on TV all the time but that was really exciting,” Ballas said. “I’m happy to be here.”

Facebook Twitter Google Digg Reddit LinkedIn Pinterest StumbleUpon Email