Monday through Saturday, Kyle Cooper wakes up at 5:40 in the morning to get to his construction job by 7:00. On his only day off, he shoots trap at the local sportsman’s club with his grandfather. Things that would bother a typical teen—a long commute, arduous work, little time off for friends—barely faze Kyle. This 18-year-old has the quiet confidence and patience of someone twice his age.
Kyle’s demeanor may be due in part to having had to wait a lifetime for something he wanted so badly. He was born with hemifacial microsomia (HFM), a craniofacial anomaly that resulted in the left side of his face being underdeveloped. The cause of HFM is not well understood. Until this past February, what HFM meant for Kyle was that his face was noticeably uneven and barely any of his teeth touched. “I made it through and got used to it, but I couldn’t eat things like meat because it would take me three hours to chew.” …
Our 5-year-old neighbor was recently bitten by a dog. How can I keep my kids safe?
Unfortunately, dog bites happen every day, and for the most part, they are avoidable. At Boston Children’s Hospital, we see everything from small lacerations that can be repaired in the Emergency Department to bone-crushing facial injuries that require multiple reconstructive operations. Most of the patients with bad dog bites that I see in our Department of Plastic & Oral Surgery are in the 4-6-year-old range – an age when children are usually mature enough to avoid a completely unfamiliar dog, but still young enough to unintentionally provoke a dog they feel comfortable with.
Sometimes bites are caused by a pet that the child lives with. More often, they seem to come from dogs that children are familiar with but don’t know as well, such as a friend or family member’s dog. Although I can’t necessarily say that one breed of dog is more likely to bite than another, certain breeds have incredible power and can cause a lot of damage with just one bite. The most serious bites I have cared for are from Pit Bulls, Rottweilers and Akitas.
The most serious bites I have cared for are from Pit Bulls, Rottweilers and Akitas.
A patient treated by our team was attacked by a dog that smashed the child’s jaw and cheekbone, and badly injured the tissue around the eye. We repaired the patient’s bones with plates and screws and used bone from the skull to reconstruct areas where bone was missing. The child looks much better but still has a long way to go and will undoubtedly have some permanent injury. Fortunately, severe bite injuries like this are much less common than skin injuries!
As a dog lover and owner as well as someone who treats many kids with dog bites, these are are my tips for keeping your kids safe:
1. Always supervise your children around dogs.
Never leave a dog alone with kids, particularly young children. I don’t think you can be too safe.
Honoring Craniofacial Acceptance Month and one young man’s quest to give back
By Torrence Chrisman
Torrence Chrisman, 24, is a history major at the University of Massachusetts Boston. At birth, Torrence was diagnosed with Apert syndrome, a rare genetic birth disorder involving abnormal growth of the skull and the face, fingers and toes. Read about his medical journey as a Boston Children’s patient and his quest to return to the hospital.
I came to Boston after being born in Chicago, where I was diagnosed with the amazing Apert syndrome. It was because of the doctors and surgeons at Boston Children’s Hospital that I ended up in Massachusetts. One surgeon, Dr. Joe Upton, specialized in operating on the hands of Apert patients. He swung a home run every time he entered the operating room and worked miracles with microsurgery. Dr. John Mulliken, who specialized in the craniofacial aspects of my surgeries, always had a can-do attitude and completed the surgeries with confidence. …