2.) What has been one of your most rewarding moments at Gillette? I am lucky, because I experience rewarding moments on a regular basis at Gillette. I enjoy spending time with families and children in clinic. I have met so many wonderful and inspiring families through my work at Gillette. I am most rewarded when I am able to provide an explanation regarding a particular symptom and develop a treatment plan that may include education and reassurance, or a medical intervention for symptom relief.
3.) How does your position fit into caring for those who have cerebral palsy? As a neurologist, I am one of the specialists who introduce the diagnosis of cerebral palsy to a family. Neurologists also provide information to families about the cause of cerebral palsy for their child, which may include interpreting brain imaging studies or ordering new studies. Neurologists directly manage or co-manage many of the symptoms of cerebral palsy (such as spasticity and motor delays) and neurological conditions that can sometimes accompany cerebral palsy (such as epilepsy, cognitive disabilities, attention difficulties, language delays, dysautonomia and sensory issues) by recommending medications, rehabilitative therapies, psychology/neuropsychology referrals and/or educational interventions. Neurologists also screen for related medical conditions that may require additional treatment, such as vision impairment, swallowing difficulties, growth concerns, sleep problems or orthopedic abnormalities.
4.) What are the benefits of working with an interdisciplinary team of caregivers? The logistics are easier for both families and providers when the necessary specialists all practice together in one medical system. At Gillette, I often consult directly with other physician specialties, psychologists/neuropsychologists, and therapists about my patients. This results in comprehensive, higher quality care. We all evaluate a child through the lens of our specialty training and personal experiences, so children at Gillette benefit from the knowledge of multiple experts. I benefit professionally by constantly learning from my colleagues. If I don’t know the answer to a patient’s question, there is likely someone at Gillette who can answer or point me to someone else to ask. We also have an amazing staff of social workers who help families access available community resources.
5.) What advice would you give a parent with a child who has cerebral palsy? My advice changes depending on how old a child is, how early it is in the diagnosis, what the child’s needs are and the parents’ questions. In general, I stress that children with cerebral palsy fall on a spectrum and each child is unique. Although the symptoms of cerebral palsy can change over time, I emphasize that cerebral palsy is not a progressive or degenerative disorder. Although we don’t have treatments that can cure the underlying brain abnormalities that result in cerebral palsy, we have many treatments to help children reach their maximum potential. For parents of young children who have mild cerebral palsy, I might tell them “success stories” about teenagers I take care of with similar symptoms, who play basketball or tutor kids or are going off to college. I also try to be aware of the fact that parents may have emotional struggles at certain ages or stages outside of the initial diagnostic time period, such as when their child misses certain educational milestones or social milestones (driving, prom, etc.).
6.) What are some of your hobbies outside of work? Running — often around the Minneapolis Chain of Lakes and typically running in at least one 10-mile or half marathon race each year, hiking, cross country skiing, playing piano, singing, learning about wine, baking and travel (favorite repeat vacations include Hawaii and France).
7.) What is one fun fact about you? I caught my personal best largemouth bass 21-1/2 inches (6 pounds) while fishing with my husband last summer.