Stories about: Michael Glotzbecker

A bond between sisters made stronger by scoliosis

April and Mary Miller sit outside Boston Children's Hospital where they were treated for scoliosis.

Growing up, sisters will often share many things — and not always willingly. But it’s not often they will end up sharing the same condition, one that keeps them stuck in a rigid and uncomfortable back brace for most of the day. But then again, April and Mary Miller are not your average sisters.

The Miller sisters were both diagnosed with idiopathic scoliosis at the end of their fifth grade years. April, the oldest sister, was diagnosed in 2011, while younger sister Mary’s diagnosis came in 2013.

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Experiencing how spinal fusion treats scoliosis before surgery day

Scoliosis patients and families look on as a nurse presents inside a simulation hospital room
The Spinal Program at Boston Children’s Orthopedic Center has partnered with the Simulator Program to offer a unique simulation experience to patients who will undergo surgical treatment for scoliosis, a procedure called spinal fusion, this summer.

“In my experience, patients do better when they are well prepared for surgery,” says Dr. Michael Glotzbecker, a pediatric spine specialist and surgeon at Boston Children’s Hospital, who performs dozens of spinal fusion surgeries each year to treat children with scoliosis.

That’s why Glotzbecker teamed up with Brianna O’Connell, a child life specialist and program lead of simulation programs for patients and caregivers at the Boston Children’s SIMPeds Simulator Program, to create an immersive day for patients and their families to experience spinal fusion well ahead of surgery day.

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Scoliosis surgery: from tears to smiles

Taychil4Fifteen-year-old Taylor Gomes approached her pre-operative appointment for scoliosis surgery as many teens might—in tears. “She came out of the appointment smiling. Not many people have that effect on Taylor,” says her mother Holly Gomes of Danvers, Mass.

Holly credits Taylor’s orthopedic surgeon Michael Glotzbecker, MD, of Boston Children’s Hospital’s Department of Orthopedic Surgery, with her daughter’s 180-degree shift in attitude.

A local pediatrician diagnosed Taylor with scoliosis when she was 8 years old, and measured her curve annually with back x-rays during her well-child appointments.

By the time Taylor turned 14, her curve had progressed, and her pediatrician knew it was time to refer to a specialist at Boston Children’s.

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