Stories about: Peter Waters

Our hopes for 2016

leukemia, remissionHappy New Year from Boston Children’s Hospital! We asked some of our leaders, surgeons and doctors to share their hopes for 2016. We hope that their words bring inspiration, peace and wellness to you for the new year.


Fenwick_Sandra120x150In 2016, I hope — or more accurately, I know — we will work together as a team across our Boston Children’s Hospital to continue to provide the highest quality, state-of-the-art care to children in our community and across the globe, while striving toward the breakthroughs in science, innovation and care that will help us to build a brighter future for everyone.

~ Sandra L. Fenwick, CEO

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Never say never: Gymnast with brachial plexus soars

Photo credit: Robert Marra
Photo credit: Robert Marra

Shortly after Julia Duplin was born, doctors diagnosed her with brachial plexus birth palsy; some of the nerves running from her upper spinal cord to her left arm had been damaged during birth. The early prognosis was that she would have some level of disability in her left arm.

Seventeen years later, she’s captain of Winthrop High School’s gymnastic team. She whips around the uneven bars with apparent ease and effortlessly flips across the sprung floor. How did Julia journey from an awkward toddler who crawled using only her right arm to a gymnastics powerhouse?

From the beginning, Julia’s parents Dianne and Joseph committed themselves to her recovery, encouraging her to do as much as possible and not letting her brachial plexus injury hold her back.

“Many brachial plexus patients go on to excel in sports despite the limits of the affected arm,” says Peter Waters, MD, chief of Boston Children’s Hospital Orthopedic Center. “If a child has the drive, talent and passion for sports, a brachial plexus injury won’t hold her back.”

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Gift of grab: Brachial plexus surgery helps tot hug and hold for the first time

Michelle and Waters

“When I first met Dr. Waters, I felt like he was an angel. I knew we were in the right place and in the right hands,” recalls Jonathan Mora. It was November 2009, and the West Haven, Conn. father, his wife and their 6-month-old daughter Michelle had endured a bumpy ride since her birth on May 30, 2009.

During her birth, a brachial plexus injury (also known as Erb’s palsy) robbed Michelle of motion in her right arm. Michelle, like approximately three out of every 1,000 babies born in the U.S., had suffered damage to nerves in her neck and arm. Babies with a brachial plexus injury are treated with physical therapy (PT), and by 6 months, the combination of PT and natural healing usually stimulates recovery.

However, 20 percent of babies don’t recover and nerve surgery is typically recommended. Michelle fell into that group.

After her diagnosis at birth, Michelle’s parents followed the prescribed PT program with a local therapist. The family’s pediatrician assessed her range of motion and muscle strength during her regular well baby visits. Michelle had not started to recover in the first few months after birth; she could not lift her shoulder nor bend her elbow and had weakness in her wrist and hand. Her pediatrician referred the family to Peter Waters, MD, Orthopedic Surgeon-in-Chief in the Orthopedic Center at Boston Children’s Hospital.

Jonathan and his wife, Vonetta, bundled their young daughter and trekked to Boston, hoping that Waters might be able to help.

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