Defying the Odds: Neurosurgery Patient Walks Again

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital April 21, 2016

Anthony Hodges is walking again after a car accident left him paralyzed.

Dr. Yi Lu, a neurosurgeon at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH), was moved to tears when 23-year-old Anthony Hodges walked into the Neurosurgery clinic for a follow-up appointment.

“I couldn’t believe it,” says Dr. Lu, who performed emergency spine surgery on Anthony after a car accident left him paralyzed. “With his type of complete spinal cord injury, Anthony had less than a five percent chance of ever walking again. His case was a miracle.”

In July 2015, Anthony, the former captain of the Salem State University basketball team, was riding in the passenger seat during a car accident. The crash left Anthony unable to move his hands, legs, or feet. He was rushed to BWH for surgery, where doctors determined that he had a complete spinal cord injury – an injury that often results in the permanent loss of function below the injury site, which, in Anthony’s case, was a spinal disc near the back of his neck. During surgery, which occurred just six hours after the accident, a surgical team removed a broken vertebra that was pressing on Anthony’s spinal cord and replaced it with a bone graft that was stabilized with a titanium plate.

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Boston Marathon 2016: Running to Support Trauma Research

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital April 14, 2016

Margarita Ramos, MD, MPH, a research fellow in the Department of Surgery, will run her first marathon on April 18 as a member of the BWH Stepping Strong Marathon Team.

Margarita Ramos, MD, MPH, will run her first marathon on April 18 as a member of the BWH Stepping Strong Marathon Team.

Margarita Ramos, MD, MPH, a research fellow in the Brigham and Women’s Department of Surgery, will run her first marathon on April 18 as a member of the BWH Stepping Strong Marathon Team, supporting innovative trauma research and clinical care.

“I can’t wait to join thousands of runners at the Boston Marathon who believe in making a difference,” Dr. Ramos says. “It will be a day to celebrate the resilience of the human spirit.”

Dr. Ramos says she is excited to run in honor of Gillian Reny, a family friend and Boston Marathon bombing survivor, who was treated at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH). As a spectator at the 2013 Boston Marathon, Dr. Ramos quickly learned from another friend of the Renys that Gillian had been critically injured and transported to BWH. Dr. Ramos hurried to the hospital to see how she could help.

“As a trusted friend, I wanted to do everything I could to help Gillian’s family understand the steps the surgical trauma team was taking to care for her,” says Dr. Ramos. “I reviewed X-ray images with them and answered their questions. It takes a multidisciplinary medical team to care for our trauma patients, and I was glad to participate.”

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Cooling Blankets Help Save Babies’ Lives in the NICU

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital December 15, 2015

BWH NICU Medical Director Michael Prendergast cares for a baby who is wrapped in a cooling blanket.

BWH NICU Medical Director Michael Prendergast cares for a baby wrapped in a cooling blanket.

Babies and warm blankets often go hand-in-hand, but for some newborns, a cool blanket plays a part in saving their lives.

Within minutes of delivery, baby Annie was unable to breathe on her own and showed signs of an abnormal nervous system. Doctors quickly sprang into action, examining the infant and delivering oxygen to her lungs through a small tube.

This situation came as a shock to Annie’s parents, Heidi and Matt Boucher, because Heidi had experienced a full-term pregnancy with no complications. Annie was transferred to the Newborn Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH),  where her care team explained the benefits that a cooling blanket therapy, called therapeutic hypothermia, could have on their daughter’s life.

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Patient Turned Researcher Helps Advance Understanding of Brain Tumors

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital April 13, 2015

Steven Keating (right) holds a 3-D printed model of his brain.

Interested in seeing images of his brain, Steven Keating, currently a graduate student at the MIT Media Lab, volunteered for a research study while attending school in Canada in 2007. When researchers returned his brain scans, they delivered some startling news.

“The researchers told me I had an abnormality near the smell center in my brain, but that lots of people have abnormalities and I shouldn’t be alarmed,” says Steven. However, as a precaution, researchers advised Steven to get his brain re-scanned in a few years.

Steven’s next set of brain scans, performed in 2010, showed no changes. But in July 2014, he started smelling a strange vinegar scent for about 30 seconds each day. He immediately had his brain scanned and learned that the strange smell was associated with small seizures due to the presence of a brain tumor called a glioma. Steven’s glioma had grown to the size of a baseball.

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Conversations that Matter: Living Life to the Fullest as Long as Possible

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital January 20, 2015

Atul Gawande, MD, MPH

There were a lot of subjects that Atul Gawande, MD, MPH, learned about in medical school, but mortality wasn’t one of them.

“My professors, fellow students, and I thought we wanted to learn about how the human body works, how it goes wrong, and ways we can fix it,” said Dr. Gawande during a recent lecture at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH). Dr. Gawande is a renowned BWH surgeon, writer, researcher, and executive director of Ariadne Labs, a joint center for health systems innovation at BWH and the Harvard School of Public Health.

After caring for patients nearing the end of their lives and contending with health problems that couldn’t be solved, Dr. Gawande felt he didn’t fully understand how to be helpful in these situations. Wanting to learn more, he set out to interview patients, family members, physicians, home health aides, and others from BWH and across the country about what matters in the end.

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Could Too Little or Too Much Sleep Affect Brain Health in Later Life?

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital May 28, 2014

A recent Brigham and Women's Hospital study shows an association between extreme sleep durations and worse memory in later life.

In today’s fast-paced world, finding time to sleep can be challenging, but new research suggests it may be critically important for brain health as we age.

“Our findings suggest that getting an average amount of sleep, seven hours a day, may help maintain memory in later life, and that clinical interventions based on sleep therapy should be examined for the prevention of cognitive impairment,” says Dr. Elizabeth Devore, lead study author.

BWH researchers found that women who slept five or fewer hours, or nine or more hours per day, either in midlife or later life, had worse memory (equivalent to nearly two additional years of age) than those sleeping seven hours per day. Women whose sleep duration changed by more than two hours from midlife to later life had worse memory than women with no change in sleep duration.

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