RasmussenCollage

Gracie Rasmussen is a 13-year-old athlete who loves the sport of cheerleading. Her dream had always been to compete for Cheer Athletics, a nationally renowned cheerleading powerhouse.  She worked hard to make the team, spending hours in the gym each day perfecting every tumble, dance move and stunt.  Like most of the girls, she had to ice down parts of her body that would ache after practice.  For Gracie, it was her back that hurt the most, a pain easy to dismiss after watching the cheerleaders tumble, jump, stretch and flip over and over again.

It was actually a weekend off from cheerleading, spent on the lake with her family that brought her a diagnosis of scoliosis.  Gracie and her sister, Sawyer, were riding an inner-tube being pulled by a boat on the lake, when they both fell off and jarred their backs. An X-ray on Gracie’s back confirmed much more than bruising: it illuminated a severe case of scoliosis that was bending Gracie’s spine at a 65-degree angle.

“I was just so impressed with Dr. Lieberman,” said Lynn Rasmussen, Gracie’s mom. “He spoke directly to her.  He looked her in the eye and told her exactly what was going on. He worked her in and within two weeks, she was having surgery.”

“Gracie’s eight-hour surgery was an instrumentation correction fusion for idiopathic scoliosis – essentially, we realigned her spine and locked everything where it needed to be by using computer-navigated robotic assistance for the placement of the hardware,” noted Dr. Lieberman. “We use tools like this to achieve the best accuracy, effectiveness and efficiency we can for patients who need a procedure like this.”

Cheerleaders are known for their positive attitudes and strong spirits.  But it was faith, Gracie says, that pulled her through: “I was really nervous about the surgery, but I knew that I needed it. I had just made Cheer Athletics team – it was my dream to go there.  I just prayed about it.” A strong Christian faith and friends at her church, Prestonwood North Baptist Church, Gracie said, helped her through surgery and recovery. She spent eight days in the hospital at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Plano and continues physical therapy at home.

Almost a year post-surgery, it was mom Lynn who was the most nervous as her daughter prepared to do her first back flip on the mat at the gym where Gracie practices.

“I couldn’t believe it when she did it,” she recalled. “I was jumping up and down and saying, ‘Gracie, you did it! You did it! And she looked at me and rolled her eyes and said, ‘Mom, I’ve done this, like, a thousand times before.’ But I was thinking, ‘Yes, but you got it back!’ Nothing prepares you for watching your child relearn everything they knew, from lifting their head to walking to tumbling.”

Gracie’s passion for cheering pushed her to work hard through her recovery to continue the sport she loves so much.  Her coaches credit her strong work ethic and muscle memory for allowing her to get back onto the mat so quickly post-surgery.

“Tumbling is a lot easier now,” notes Gracie, when talking about her recovery and her return to her sport. “It’s straighter and it’s easier.” Gracie never knew that it was a curve in her spine that was causing her to veer off to the side during tumbling passes, something she had struggled to control. Even just months after her surgery, she felt that her back was stronger and that things were coming easier than they did before.

“Gracie is an athlete,” said Dr. Lieberman. “While we want the best outcome we can for all patients, we know that flexibility is particularly important for these young men and women.”

Gracie, who loves English and writing, is looking forward to writing the ending to this chapter in her life, which she hopes includes a spot on her high school cheerleading squad. One day, she wants to help others by going into the field of physical therapy or sports medicine, and she is excited to share her story with other patients who may be going through a similar experience with a diagnosis of scoliosis.

Her advice for them?

“Just trust the doctors and know that you will be stronger than you ever were.”

Spoken like a true cheerleader.

Professional bass fisherman, Ryan Lovelace gets back to fishing

As a professional bass fisherman, Ryan’s pain was exacerbated by his participation in several fishing tournaments every year. In order to win or place in these professional bass fishing tournaments, the angler must catch as many bass as possible with the idea being that the final fish weight of his top 5 fish are compared to the other participants.

The fishing tournament typically lasts for two days and the more fish that are caught, the higher probability of getting 5 huge ones. This requires lots of casts. How many? “I typically cast 3,000 to 3,500 casts each day of a tournament,” Lovelace said.
Standing on his feet for about 8 hours and casting 3,000 times a day during a tournament took its toll on Ryan’s injured back. Over time, it wore down his L5 vertebra and Dr. Richard Guyer at Texas Back Institute recommended a microdiscectomy.
After this procedure was completed, Ryan spent less than 24 hours in the hospital for recovery and was sent home for rest and further rehabilitation. A short while after his operation, Ryan is getting back to his top fishing form. He hopes to be completely recovered and able to compete in the 2013 pro bass fishing season.

Guest blogger, Anabelle Gutierrez, Workers’ Compensation Specialist, love her job!

Workers’ compensation can be tricky which is why it’s important to have a concierge case manager dedicated to each patient. At Texas Back Institute we realize this and we have a team of dedicated work comp professionals to help each patient through the workers’ compensation process. My name is Anabelle and I am your resource for anything workers’ comp related at Texas Back Institute.

Anabelle and her beautiful nephew.

I love my job! I have worked at Texas Back Institute for several years and I still feel like every day I am going to make a difference in someone’s life.  My goal is to help walk each work comp patient through their treatment process.  When someone is injured on the job and unable to work it can be exceedingly stressful and I want to make sure when it comes to TBI, we make the process as easy as possible.

I strive to provide each one of my patients with individualized care and attentiveness.  I know it’s not only important for our physicians to communicate effectively; I also have to make sure I am keeping an open dialogue with my patients so they always know where we are in the process of their claim. I truly love the days when a patient expresses how much I have helped with their workers’ compensation process. When patients articulate they are able to do things now they couldn’t do before, I know I was part of the team who made it happen! My most memorable day thus far was when a former patient stopped by to let us know how she was doing. Her comment will always stick out in my mind. She said, “Texas Back Institute does get people back to life, look at me I can walk without pain!” I love knowing my job helps people get back to doing the things back pain or neck pain once prevented them from doing.

Guest Blogger, Jennifer Sanders, Surgery Scheduler and Administrative Assistant for Dr. Lieberman, loves her job!

Not all people can truly say that they love their job. Some people might say that they like their job, but they don’t truly love going into work every day. I happen to love my job and honestly enjoy what every new day brings.

 I’m Jennifer Sanders and I have been working at TBI for a little over a year. My previous employers have all been small companies with no more than 20 employees. I’ll admit it, I was nervous to work for a company so much larger.  Our Plano office seemed so big with so many people and at first I was intimidated.  I soon learned I had nothing to be nervous about; I joined a great company. Although there are close to 100 people working in our Plano office, it still feels like a family environment.  The management makes a point to put on fun events, like pot-luck lunches, casual days and Sonic Boom!- to help with our overall health and wellness. I have never worked in a place where I felt so at home and valued.

 What makes this job different from anywhere else I’ve ever worked is you can literally witness our doctors “getting our patients back to life”.  The majority of Dr. Lieberman’s patients have scoliosis or curvature of the spine and we see a dramatic physical and emotional change in many of our patients after surgery.

 Several months after starting at TBI, I met with a patient who had a severe kyphotic deformity. She was bent forward almost 90 degrees, had to use a walker to move around and had a hard time with day-to-day activities, including laying down.  Dr. Lieberman ended up performing surgery on her and it went very well.

 I didn’t see this patient again for approximately 9 months. One day I was walking through our lobby and I was stopped by this sweet women. “Jennifer?” I paused and looked at the women trying to figure out how I knew her. She said, “You don’t recognize me, do you?” After a couple of seconds, I realized who she was and I was astonished….almost speechless. There standing before me was our patient from 9 months ago who at the time, saw the world completely bent over.  Not only had she changed her hair and lost weight, but she was standing up almost completely straight and without the aid of a walker. It brought tears to my eyes seeing just how good (and tall) she looked. She expressed heartfelt gratitude for what Dr. Lieberman was able to do to help her. I really liked working at TBI before this day, but after seeing that patient I knew I really loved where I was and I was surrounded by people and doctors who were able to improve other people’s lives.

 Since that day, I have witnessed countless other success stories like this patient.

I love my job but I also love my time outside of work. I am a wife, daughter and sister! This is my husband, Trace  and I.

 I am a Texas A&M graduate and I love cheering on the Aggies when I’m not at work.  This is my family and I getting ready to watch the Aggies win!

Seeing the good we are doing with my own two eyes, truly makes me want to come to work everyday. I wake up and say who are we going to help today? Whose life can we change for the better? And what can I do to help our patients get back to life?

I would love to know what you love about your job.  Please feel free to leave your comments here.

 

It’s not too late to find a job that inspires you!

My name is Kelly Phariss. I have worked at Texas Back Institute for 8 years and for the last 5 years I have been part of the sales team. I love it!

 As a sales manager, I spend the majority of my time speaking with physicians, who refer their patients to Texas Back Institute. I educate these physicians about the procedures and technologies TBI utilizes which can help their patients with back pain and neck pain.  I also participate in various events throughout the community.  These events include health fairs, golf tournaments, community events and events with the chambers of commerce.  While at these events, I educate the community regarding how Texas Back Institute can help treat neck and back pain.  My goal is to not just educate but also build relationships.

One of the most rewarding parts of my job is when people stop by the TBI booth to share their story saying Texas Back Institute physicians “saved” their life.  I love hearing success stories like these from those who have been to TBI and are now living a pain-free and active life. 

This makes me proud to work for TBI.  I know our physicians are not only expert spine surgeons, but good people who truly care about the well-being of others!

Kelly Phariss

North Territory Manager

Denys Kendall….Back to Feeling Like a Person!

Denys Kendall never thought he would need spine surgery.  He was jumping out of airplanes, serving his country in Iraq and living the life of a true adrenaline junkie.  Denys served in the Army for 4 years, starting off in Special Forces and eventually moving into the First Cavalry at Fort Hood in Killeen, TX. 

Unfortunately for Denys, while receiving a series of vaccines to protect him from contracting anthrax, he developed a severe staph infection. The infection settled in his hip eventually eating away at the sacroiliac joint and the lower area of his lumbar spine. During the removal of an abscess, by surgeons outside of Texas Back Institute (TBI), one of his nerves was severed causing pain and weakness in his leg.

Denys’s pain got to a point where he knew he needed to seek attention from an expert and he began seeing Dr. James Cable, a pain management specialist at the Texas Back Institute to help determine what treatment options were available for his specific condition.  After performing a physical evaluation and reviewing Mr. Kendall’s case Dr. Cable referred him to his colleague Dr. Ralph Rashbaum, co-founder and orthopedic spine surgeon at the Texas Back Institute specialized in chronic pain management and interventional pain management.

Dr. Rashbaum and Denys discussed the possible treatment options and determined a spinal cord stimulator was going to give him the best possible results.  Luckily for Denys, the FDA had just approved the use of a new stimulator device that automatically adjusts to movements in his posture, making it virtually effortless to use.

Dr. Rashbaum recalls, “Denys came to Texas Back Institute with unrelenting pain radiating down his leg. He was the perfect candidate for the RestoreSensor because he is a very active gentleman and the sensor works well for people with active lifestyles.”

The decision to undergo the spinal cord stimulator implant was not an easy one for Denys, however, after doing his own research and his trust in Dr. Rashbaum Denys moved forward with the procedure.  “Dr. Rashbaum was very straightforward with me, and I love that,” said Denys. “He gave me realistic expectations but he was very confident this was going to be a life changer. Since my procedure the device has been doing its job like a champ.”

When asked what he most looks forward to doing now that his back pain is under control Denys states, “to me, it’s not so much about what activity, it’s about getting a life back! I can be a person again and that for me is invaluable. Dr. Rashbaum is a savior! He saved me.”

BW Beasley…Back to Racquetball!  

BW Beasley came to the Texas Back Institute after suffering from chronic back pain symptoms for years. Ten years earlier, Mr. Beasley had undergone a microdiscectomy with a different physician which only temporarily relieved his pain. He was anxious for a chance to get back to an unrestricted and active lifestyle, as he had been an active golfer and racquetball player before his pain had become too severe. Additionally, he was required to travel for work as a sales manager, and this was becoming increasingly difficult due to his back pain symptoms.

After conservative treatments proved unsuccessful, BW decided to go through with disc replacement surgery with Dr. Jack Zigler at TBI.  Shortly after surgery, the hospital staff had him up walking and into the artificial disc replacement physical therapy program.  BW progressed rapidly and by his 6 month follow-up visit, he was scuba diving and golfing again. Travel was no longer an issue, which made work much more manageable.  At his 12 month follow-up visit, he arrived at TBI with a copy of the Summer 2009 Racquetball magazine that featured an article he had written about playing the perfect game. He had just played in the US Open for Racquetball in his age group—an amazing feat, for someone who was seeking back pain treatment had undergone back surgery less than a year before. He stated that people were amazed to hear that he had an artificial disc and asked many questions about it, his surgeon, and where he had his surgery. “I refer patients to TBI and Dr. Zigler all the time!” he says.

Three years later, he won a national Racquetball tournament for his age group. “I have some trouble with my shoulder and my elbow at times, but not really my back,” he said. He can’t believe that three years have passed and that he continues to do so well after back surgery and feels so good.

“I never thought I’d be able to get my life back,” he says, “but if I can do it, I know others can too.” When asked what BW would tell others worried about undergoing spine surgery, he says, “If you do nothing else, just go see the spine surgeons at Texas Back Institute.  You owe yourself at least that!”

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