The Center for Treatment of Paralysis & Reconstructive Nerve Surgery at Jersey Shore University Medical Center has allowed countless patients to begin to live a life full of possibilities.
In 2012, Monmouth County resident Rebecca Smith was stuck in a holding pattern.
After the birth of her second child, the 39-year-old developed Graves’ disease, which led to eye problems causing her to experience pressure build-up on the optic nerve and serious eye swelling.
“It looked like I didn’t sleep at all, or that I had severe allergies,” she said.
Despite the fact that Smith took oral medication for two years to combat her symptoms, her doctor explained that corrective surgery would be most effective in relieving orbital pressure build-up.
Smith heard about Tushar Patel, M.D., FACS of The Center of Paralysis and Reconstructive Nerve Surgery at Jersey Shore University Medical Center from a friend and after reading patient testimonials on his website, she was convinced that he could help her. Dr. Patel performs a unique procedure which involves removing excess fat from the orbital cavity, as well as expanding the orbital wall to alleviate pressure and congestion in and around the eyes. The procedure is proven to correct issues such as orbital congestion, pain, eye bulging, and eyelid disfigurement caused by Grave’s.
In March 2014, Rebecca underwent surgery on one eye, and according to protocol, had the second eye surgery six weeks later. She never considered another doctor after she met Dr. Patel. “I only consulted with Dr. Patel. That’s how comfortable I felt with him right from the beginning.”
Dr. Patel gave a thorough explanation of the surgery to her and he and his staff were also very welcoming to Smith’s two children, who she brings with her to every appointment. To a mother, that added ‘extra’ was an invaluable detail that made a scary situation much more comfortable.
“Dr. Patel always explained everything very clearly; I never felt that he was lecturing me. He was there and he was present, talking to me about my situation. Even though this is a routine surgery for him, he was not talking to me like I was just another patient.”
After a brief recovery period with minimal discomfort, Rebecca Smith was able to resume her normal life. She is currently in remission from Graves ’ Disease, but follows up with her endocrinologist every six months to be sure that it does not return.
Graves’ disease affects 14 out of every 100,000 people, with women over 20 constituting the majority of those cases. According to the Graves’ Disease and Thyroid Foundation, the condition must be treated to avoid complications such as bone and muscle wasting and heart problems. If left untreated, patients also risk ‘thyroid storm’, a life-threatening event causing the thyroid gland to suddenly release a large amount of hormones in a very short time. In the more advanced stages of Graves’, decompression surgery also becomes necessary to reverse the effects of this condition.Graves’ disease affects 14 out of every 100,000 people, with women over 20 constituting the majority of those cases. According to the Graves’ Disease and Thyroid Foundation, the condition must be treated to avoid complications such as bone and muscle wasting and heart problems. If left untreated, patients also risk ‘thyroid storm’, a life-threatening event causing the thyroid gland to suddenly release a large amount of hormones in a very short time. In the more advanced stages of Graves’, decompression surgery also becomes necessary to reverse the effects of this condition.
Barry Wilson, a 50 year old dentist and avid outdoorsman from Mission Hills, Kansas, underwent surgery in 2011 to repair a torn rotator cuff in his right shoulder. Due to a poorly administered interscalene nerve block, which is a anesthetizing technique used for shoulder and upper arm surgery, damage occurred to his phrenic nerve as well as to his brachial plexus. As a result, Barry was left with a paralyzed right diaphragm and numbness in his right hand.
“The year following the repair surgery, when everything was at its worse, my lung function was only about 60%,” Barry says. “As an active person and a hunter; it was depressing, I was constantly out of breath.” At this point, his pulmonologist could only recommend a diaphragmatic plication, a proven but risky surgical option which can improve lung function by creating folds in the diaphragm, then suturing those folds in place. Barry, not convinced with the plication treatment option, researched the internet and came across Matthew Kaufman, M.D. at Jersey Shore University Medical Center. “I clicked on an article by Dr. Kaufman about phrenic nerve grafting to treat paralyzed diaphragms, read it thoroughly and said this is for me,” Barry states.
In April 2013, Barry emailed The Center for Treatment of Paralysis and Reconstructive Nerve Surgery at Jersey Shore and within two days received a call from Dr. Kaufman to discuss his condition. After some preliminary exams and two weeks after their initial conversation, Barry was on a plane to New Jersey set to undergo nerve reconstruction to his injured phrenic nerve.”After Dr. Kaufman personally took over 30 minutes of his time to speak with me over the phone, I felt confident and comfortable,” Barry says. “I was in for surgery on a Friday morning and released the next afternoon.”
Dr. Kaufman informed Barry that it would take ten months before he would notice any improvement in lung function. Immediately following the procedure, Barry was restricted from performing any strenuous activities. Three weeks following the surgery, he began to run at 6 M.P.H. on his treadmill but struggled to run for longer than a minute and a half. Now a year later, Barry has resumed hunting and is running for at least twenty minutes with no setbacks. At 85% lung function in June 2014, he recently began pulmonary rehabilitation and is confident he will be back to his old self in no time. “It was almost fate that I found Dr. Kaufman and I am just delighted that everything was able to work out so well,” Barry says!
More stories of Compelling Hope:
In 2010, Sebastian Prospero underwent surgery to remove a 4-inch cyst from his spine. As a result, nerve damage occurred and Sebastian developed bilateral foot drop. In April 2013, Dr. Andrew Elkwood performed surgery on Sebastian’s left leg. After a successful procedure, he gradually began a physical therapy regimen that included light stretching and leg lifting. This therapy quickly progressed, and after two months, Sebastian was able to remove his leg braces, work on an elliptical machine and perform leg presses.
Read Sebastian's Story
In 2008, Richard Kress suddenly noticed a tingling and numbness in his feet. Over time, his condition worsened to the point that he became unable to tell hot from cold. Richard was diagnosed with peripheral neuropathy. But luckily, Richard found Dr. Rose who performed a triple nerve decompression on his right foot. With this innovative procedure, normal sensation returned to his foot almost immediately.
Read Richard's Story
After suffering a close-range gunshot in his right arm by a 12-gauge shotgun, Aran Harper shattered his humerus and badly damaged his nerves, essentially leaving him with a dead limb. After finding Dr. Elkwood, Aran’s arm has been given the ability to function once again. Aran recalls what Dr. Elkwood said to him, “We will try to do everything we can until there is nothing else we can do.”
Read Aran's Story
After an unfortunate incident with a fireworks, Maria had severe nerve and soft tissue damage to her hand and needed to have four of her fingertips amputated from the top knuckle. But, Dr. Rose was able to maximize the use of her healthy tissues and inserted pins and screws to rebuild her fingers to move and function to almost 100 percent.
Nicholas - Chicago, IL
"I was living with breathing problems for a few years. After surgery it felt like someone took a weight off my chest; much improvement. Before I could not finish a sentence without taking a breath. In my research there were not many options, until I read about Dr. Kaufman in New Jersey. I still was skeptical, but took a chance and very happy I did."
D.R., New Jersey
"My experience with Dr. Kaufman was excellent. After nine months of feeling I had no options, he gave me hope. Overall, I would recommend this doctor and his expertise in phrenic nerve surgery. He and his staff explained the procedure thoroughly and as the patient, I felt confident if anything could be done to provide better breathing for me, it would be. Dr. Kaufman has a wonderful bedside manner which is commendable!"
David became a quadriplegic after a construction accident almost two years ago. In February 2011, he underwent surgery that implanted a diaphragm pacemaker, which eventually will allow him to breathe on his own.
He sought medical care at the Center for Treatment of Paralysis and Reconstructive Surgery at Jersey Shore University Medical Center where Dr. Matthew Kaufman performed a rare surgery to help David.
Watch David's Story below:
Kevin is a phrenic nerve surgery patient. Kevin was shot in a robbery which left him paralyzed. Since then, his journey has gone from desperation and darkness, to hope and determination.
Kevin underwent surgery with Dr. Matthew Kaufman at the Center for the Treatment of Paralysis and Reconstructive Nerve Surgery at Jersey Shore University Medical Center, in an effort to salvage Neary's phrenic nerve and install a pacemaker to hopefully make his diaphragm work.
"Kevin's procedure went much better than anticipated. We went into the surgery anticipating severe nerve damage and were elated when both phrenic nerves responded to external stimulation. The prospect of him successfully weaning from the ventilator is excellent. We will be initiating this process in two weeks and are hopeful that he will be breathing independently in the weeks and months to come."
-- Dr. Matthew Kaufman
Watch Kevin's Story below:
Grace is a phrenic nerve surgery patient. Grace was diagnosed with T-cell lymphoblastic lymphoma. Grace's lymphoma was mostly in her chest, including the largest tumor (10 centimeters), which caused the destruction of her phrenic nerve. Since 2007, Dr. Kaufman has been performing phrenic nerve surgeries, and is one of the only surgeons in the world to do these procedures. Of the nearly 45 phrenic nerve procedures he has done, Grace is Dr. Kaufman's youngest patient.
Watch Grace's Story below:
- Elkwood A, Holland N, Arbes S, Rose M, Kaufman M, Ashinoff R, Parikh M, Patel T. Nerve allograft transplantation for functional restoration of the upper extremity: case series. The Journal of Spinal Cord Medicine. 2011;3(2):1-7.
- Kaufman M, Elkwood A, Rose M, Patel T, Ashinoff R, Saad A, Caccavale R, Bocage J, Cole J, Soriano A, Fein E. Reinnervation of the Paralyzed Diaphragm: Application of Nerve Surgery Techniques Following Unilateral Phrenic Nerve Injury. CHEST. 2011: 140: 191-197