Center for Paralysis and Reconstructive Nerve Surgery

Rebecca's Story


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's Story


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!

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Surgical Specialties

The Department of Surgery is an academic program that combines the latest clinical advances in patient care, teaching, and research.

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Center for Paralysis and Reconstructive Nerve Surgery

Our physicians have more than 50 years of combined experience in the field of nerve reconstruction.

Providing Specialized Care

Rehabilitation Services

Rehabilitation is an area of health care which is dedicated to improving the quality of life and functional status of an individual who has difficulty with daily activities due to an injury or illness.

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Medical Services

Jersey Shore University Medical Center offers the region’s most advanced medical care, including specialized expertise in a full range of medical services.

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