Inside Gillette Blog

Meet Us Monday- Meet Andrea Zehrer, Spanish Interpreter

Posted On: 02/24/2014

1. What is your position and role at Gillette? Do you have a favorite story or memory? I am an in-house Spanish Interpreter. I started working at Gillette Children's Specialty Healthcare in October of 2011.

2. What are some of your hobbies outside of work? I have several hobbies; I love to travel, go shopping, take my dogs on walks, try new restaurants, go salsa dancing, and spend time with my family.  In the summer I like going to the lake, waterskiing, and relaxing with a good book in my hammock.  I like doing fun things and enjoy life to the fullest.

3. Do you have any children or pets? We have two kids, Bruno (19 years old) and Sophia (11 years old) and two yellow labs, Macy and Ella.

4. If you could travel anywhere, where would you go? I would love to travel to China and hike the Great Wall of China. Also, I would like to travel to Ecuador and Honduras and volunteer as an interpreter in the hospitals.

5. What is one fun fact about you? I am from Mexico City, and I love to tease my husband with Spanish words that he doesn’t know.


My Gillette Story by Shelley Potter

Posted On: 02/18/2014

Alivia is a happy 4-year-old who is spunky and determined. Livie loves and responds to all types of music. She hears a song one day and will be singing it the next. She recently has been plucking out songs on the keyboard by ear. Livie really enjoys her iPad, her early childhood class, and her grandparents.  We are so proud of all the obstacles she had faced and conquered. She shows true courage and determination.  

Livie was born with many congenital anomalies.  She has hydrocephalus, absent radius bones on both arms, scoliosis, cleft lip and palate, and mild kidney issues.  Livie and her twin brother were born at a local children's hospital where she was admitted into the NICU.  I was so impressed at how many doctors were coming in to see my Livie; doctors from Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare were already coming to assess her and talk about follow up plans. I remember being so thankful for their knowledge and their ability to help my daughter.  

When Livie was just two days old, Dr. Michael Partington placed a VP shunt to treat her hydrocephalus. I remember looking to him with concern and he said to me, "It will be okay mom, I will take care of her, don't worry." He was right—and from then on, I have trusted him completely with my little girl.  Dr. Ann Van Heest has also seen Livie since she was born. She has performed multiple surgeries on her hands and arms to help her establish full function.  She truly has Livie's best interest at heart. Dr. John Lonstein and most recently Dr. Tenner Guillaume have been wonderful in directing care for her scoliosis. Dr. Guillaume was very sincere and encouraging to a broken down mama at our last appointment. It means so much when our team at Gillette not only supports the patient, but also the whole family.  

Gillette’s Assistive Technology department has been wonderful. Livie dislikes going in there but we know that ultimately, all of her bracing and adjusting will improve her quality of life.  She has also had a CranioCap, multiple wrist/hand braces, and currently has a back brace for her scoliosis.  She has had many X-rays, CT scans, and MRIs. Gillette’s imaging department is absolutely amazing!  

We look forward to coming to Gillette not only because of the incredible staff, but also for the amazing volunteers and activities they have available for the kids. We love to see what the craft of the day will be. It takes Livie's mind off of her appointments and focuses it on something fun and interactive. Livie's brothers also enjoy the many actives available while waiting for their “sissy” to finish her appointments. As a mother of a special needs child, I can't begin to explain how wonderful it is to have such an amazing hospital and clinic so close to home. We’ve been blessed with knowledgeable doctors and specialists to help our little Alivia thrive, and for that we say thank you Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare!


Meet Us Monday- Luke Duffney, CT and X-ray Certified Radiologic Technologist

Posted On: 02/17/2014

1. What is your position and role at Gillette?  I am a CT and X-ray Certified Radiologic Technologist at Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare. I started working here in November of 2008.
2. What are some of your hobbies outside of work? Oh boy, there are lots. In the spring/summer/fall I love to kayak, run, play tennis, take my dog to the lake, geocache, camp, hike, hang out with my awesome wife. In the winter I love cross country skiing. I drink a lot of coffee which I’m not sure is a hobby but… oh well. I love to laugh and live my life with joy!
3. Do you have any children or pets? We don’t have any kids but we have a 4-year-old Brittany Spaniel named Bentley. He is very active (some might say hyperactive) but I like it because he pushes me to be outside more.
4. If you could travel anywhere, where would you go? Right now I’m thinking either Iceland or Peru. I really want to hike up to Machu Picchu in Peru and Iceland just looks crazy beautiful!
5. What is one fun fact about you? I have lived in 12 different countries in the last year and a half!

Rett Syndrome Clinic and Research at Gillette

Posted On: 02/12/2014

Rett syndrome

By Timothy Feyma, M.D. and Arthur Beisang, M.D.

Rett syndrome is a rare genetic disorder that almost always affects females.  It’s associated with widespread developmental delays, epilepsy, scoliosis, and issues with sleep, feeding and movement coordination.

Many children diagnosed with Rett syndrome appear to develop either typically, or somewhat slower than expected, until ages 1 to 4, when they experience a loss of developmental skills. Many patients unfortunately undergo repeated laboratory tests, imaging studies, and medical visits before a diagnosis of Rett syndrome is confirmed. One finding that often leads to diagnosis involves stereotyped hand movements—as though children are repeatedly washing their hands. Children less severely affected may not develop such movements.

Although Rett syndrome no doubt has existed for a long time, as a distinct diagnosis it is rather new. Dr. Andreas Rett first recognized and wrote about the condition in 1966. The gene responsible for the condition wasn’t discovered until 1999. Before that, doctors based diagnoses on their observations of patients who had similar behaviors and symptoms. Since 1999, significant work has gone into identifying the purpose of this gene and considering ideas for treatment. 

Gillette Children's Specialty Healthcare founded our Rett Syndrome Clinic in 2005 in hopes that focusing on this unique group of patients would allow us to better understand the condition and provide help. By partnering with researchers at the University of Minnesota and other locations, we are beginning to understand more. Some of less-discussed effects of Rett syndrome include trouble regulating body temperature, being aware of pain, and sleeping.  We have begun investigating the communication abilities of patients with Rett syndrome in hopes that we can learn more about the thoughts and desires this condition prevents them from clearly expressing.  Beyond characterizing symptoms and treating related Rett syndrome issues, we are working to further collaborate with scientific investigators seeking to treat Rett syndrome and prevent associated symptoms.  Our hope is that some of this research will yield ways to gauge the success of treatments currently under development. As with all research, the pace of discovery can be slow and frustrating, but our hope is to provide not just support for symptoms, but also active treatments for Rett syndrome in years to come.



Timothy Feyma, M.D., is a pediatric neurologist at Gillette Children's Specialty Healthcare. His professional interests include following neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) babies and seeing patients who have epilepsy, metabolic disorders and movement disorders. After receiving his medical degree from the University of Wisconsin Medical School, Feyma completed a pediatrics residency at Penn State Hershey Medical Center in Hershey, Pa. He then completed a pediatric neurology residency and a fellowship at the University of Washington in Seattle. His professional memberships include the Child Neurology Society and the American Academy of Neurology.





Arthur Beisang, M.D., is a pediatrician at Gillette. He sees children who have cerebral palsy, Rett syndrome, and other complex medical conditions. He also works with children whose disabilities result in drooling issues. Beisang received a medical degree from St. George’s School of Medicine in Grenada, West Indies. He completed a residency in pediatrics at the University of Minnesota. Prior to joining Gillette in 2006, Beisang was a pediatrician at Region’s Hospital and an associate professor at the University of Minnesota. He remains an assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of Minnesota. Beisang is certified by the American Board of Pediatrics.





Gillette’s Lifesaving Care Helps Preschooler Thrive

Posted On: 02/11/2014

Out for a morning run, Erica Bratland paused to change the playlist on her iPod. As the music stopped, a distant noise caught her attention. “I don’t know why, but I knew something was wrong,” Bratland recalls. “I started running toward the sound.”

As she neared a busy intersection in her suburban St. Paul, Minn., neighborhood, she saw the mangled wreckage of her mother’s car. Her mother was hanging from the driver’s side door, and her 5-year-old son, Trip, lay on the ground. First responders from a nearby fire station had cut Trip from the wreckage and were working to revive him.

When the ambulance arrived, it rushed Trip to the nearest Level 1 Pediatric Trauma Center, which Regions Hospital operates in partnership with Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare. “We were afraid. We didn’t know what was going on,” says Bratland. “But from the minute we entered the hospital, we felt supported. The doctors and nurses made a really, really, really scary moment seem manageable.”

“All we wanted was to hear his voice.”

In a coma, Trip wasn’t breathing on his own and had multiple lacerations, including a hole in his cheek. Doctors placed him on a ventilator and moved him to Gillette’s Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU).

“Trip was stable but didn’t wake up,” Bratland recalls. “All we wanted was to hear his voice and see him open his eyes.”

When Trip’s lung function didn’t improve, Gillette’s surgical team performed exploratory surgery to look for internal damage. They found and repaired a small tear in his intestine. The surgery relieved pressure on his lungs, and within days Trip was breathing on his own without the ventilator.

“That was cause for celebration,” says Bratland, “but it was also a day when we had to swallow some very hard truths.” An MRI revealed that Trip had sustained a traumatic brain injury.  “No one could tell us for sure what that would mean for him,” says his father, David Bratland, a golf course manager. “Trip loves to play golf. We didn’t know if he’d ever speak or walk again, much less swing a golf club.”

Trip’s Recovery Begins at the Region’s Top Rehab Center

Fortunately for the Bratlands, Gillette offers the region’s top rehabilitation center for children and teens and the nation's largest group of board-certified pediatric rehabilitation medicine physicians. Twelve days after the crash, Trip was strong enough to move from the PICU to the inpatient rehabilitation unit, where he began the hard work of recovery.

Gillette’s intensive program includes daily sessions with physical, occupational and speech therapists. “We entered the unit in May not knowing if Trip would ever walk again,” says Erica Bratland. “I didn’t think there was any possibility he would be able to start kindergarten in September.”

But Trip surprised everyone. “His recovery happened fast,” his mother says. “It felt like a miracle.”

Going Home

Less than a month after the crash, Trip went home—walking and talking on his own. Except for a scar on his cheek, he had no visible signs of the near-fatal crash.

Trip continued to receive outpatient physical therapy at Gillette’s St. Paul Clinic for three months. “We don’t know if there will be long-lasting effects of the brain injury,” says Bratland. “But for now, we’re grateful for every day. Gillette made the difference between a child heading off to kindergarten and a family facing a holiday without that child. We’re acutely aware that, if we hadn’t gone to Gillette, our outcome would have been very different.”

Meet Us Monday- Meet Heather Forst, Occupational Therapist

Posted On: 02/10/2014

1. What is your position and role at Gillette? Do you have a favorite story or memory?  I am an Occupational Therapist on the Inpatient Rehab Team at Gillette Children's Specialty Healthcare.  I really enjoy getting patients in the therapy kitchen to cook because you can address so many different areas with a cooking task – strengthening, organization, problem solving, memory, planning skills (just to name a few).  I have made sushi, angel food cake (from scratch), and chicken alfredo  with some of my past patients.  I recently accepted a new position in Rehab Therapies as a Level III Clinical Educator

2. What are some of your hobbies outside of work? Outside of work, I like to bake. I have gotten third and fifth place in the MN State Fair Gluten-free baking contest.  I also make stained glass and fused glass jewelry in a kiln.

3. Do you have any children or pets? I have two girls – ages 9 and 3.

4.  If you could travel anywhere, where would you go? If I could travel anywhere, I would love to go to Italy.

5. What is one fun fact about you? I listen to a wide variety of music types – rock, alternative, pop. I have surprised a few patients by knowing all the words to current pop (or even some mainstream rap) songs!



Posted On: 02/05/2014

By Angela Sinner, D.O.

A concussion is a mild traumatic brain injury. It’s defined as a traumatically induced disturbance of brain function that is typically temporary.

A concussion happens when someone sustains a hit to the head or a force to the body. By causing the brain and head to move quickly back and forth, it disrupts the balance of chemicals in the brain. Symptoms can include headache, vision changes, dizziness, nausea, difficulty concentrating or sleep changes.  You don’t have to be “knocked out” to sustain a concussion. A health care provider diagnoses the condition.   

Recovery from a concussion involves resting from physical activity—and often from cognitive, or “thinking,” activities, too. Health care providers may administer computerized tests to assess how the brain is healing and follow the patient’s progress. A concussion’s symptoms often resolve within a few weeks.

If you sustain a concussion, it’s very important to sit out of activities that put you at risk for hitting your head again. Time away from sports, gym class or other activities may be necessary. This allows the brain to heal properly. If you sustain a second concussion before healing from a first injury, you are at risk of a more severe concussion and longer-lasting symptoms. You’re also at risk of second impact syndrome. Although second impact syndrome is rare, there are cases in which people received severe brain injuries after a recent concussion.  The reasons are not well understood, but the connection could be severe brain swelling or the loss of the brain’s ability to regulate its blood supply, which could lead to coma or death. 

At Gillette, our team draws on the expertise of health care providers from rehabilitation medicine, neurosurgery, and neurology to carefully assess each injury. If symptoms persist, our therapists, psychologists, and neuropsychologists help with a plan and therapeutic interventions to reduce symptoms while enabling patients to return to school and re-engage in cognitive and physical activities. Our social work team works closely with the school team to smooth the transition. Our team rallies around each student or athlete to support their quickest return to full participation in school and activities.



Harom, et al.  American Medical Society for Sports Medicine position statement: concussion in sport.  Br J Sports Med (47); 15-26, 2013.



Angela Sinner, D.O., specializes in pediatric rehabilitation medicine with a special interest in spina bifida, neurotrauma, and spasticity management. She received her doctor of osteopathic medicine degree from Des Moines University’s College of Osteopathic Medicine in Des Moines, Iowa. She completed a physical medicine and rehabilitation residency at the University of Minnesota Medical School in Minneapolis, and then completed specialty training at Gillette Children's Specialty Healthcare through a fellowship in pediatric rehabilitation medicine.

She has made numerous professional presentations on topics including posterior fossa syndrome autonomic dysfunction in severe traumatic brain injury, and spinal cord injury evaluation. Her recent research has focused on intrathecal baclofen pump management as well as hypercalcemia incidence and treatment in spinal cord injury.




Minneapolis St. Paul Magazine Recaps LOLTC

Posted On: 02/04/2014

February's issue of Minneapolis St. Paul Magazine featured Laugh Out Loud Twin Cities, held September 2013 at the Radisson Blu. The annual fundraiser for Gillette Children's Specialty Healthcare featured comedian Howie Mandel.

Meet Us Monday- Meet Natalie Paulson, Registered Nurse

Posted On: 02/03/2014

1. What is your position and role at Gillette? Do you have a favorite story or memory?  I am a registered nurse on the Orthopedics/Surgical Unit at Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare. I started here five years ago. My favorite memory involves a little girl and her family. I was fortunate enough to work with her several days in a row. She needed X-rays prior to discharge, and I will never forget when the radiologist called me. My first reaction was that something was wrong. But when the radiologist giggled, I knew something else was up. Turns out, there was a penny in the girl’s stomach! This sweet, quiet little lady certainly must have a mischievous side, although her younger brother might have been the culprit.  And that is one of many reasons I love Gillette so much—our special, wonderful kids always keep me on my toes!

2. What are some of your hobbies outside of work? I like to do yoga, run around the city lakes, try local breweries, watch the Green Bay Packers (Go Pack!), search for the best breakfast diner, travel to cabins in the summer and—most recently—try my hand at cooking. Bless my friends and boyfriend for trying all my concoctions!

3. Do you have any children or pets? I have two fur babies: a 5-year-old white boxer named Leroy and a 5-year-old white and tan cat named Henry. They definitely have a love/hate relationship, but they’ve only lived together for 2.5 months, so I hope it’s a work in progress.

4. If you could travel anywhere, where would you go? I would love to travel to Africa, Egypt and somewhere in South America. If I could group my travel with medical volunteering, that would be even better! I am still working on persuading the orthopedics staff to take me with them on their trips. Seeing them in action overseas would be amazing!

5. What is one fun fact about you? A fun fact about me is that I loooooooooooooooove crossword puzzles. I have yet to finish a Sunday puzzle, but I enjoy the challenge!