Gillette Children’s is well represented as hand surgeons and upper limb difference specialists from six continents and 37 countries gather in Minneapolis for the 2023 World Symposium on Congenital Malformations of the Hand and Upper Limb.
“This symposium will solidify Gillette’s place on the world stage,” says Gillette orthopedic surgeon Deborah Bohn, MD. “We’re excited to present five research papers and to help more doctors and patients.”
Bohn is a committee chair for the symposium and is joined by her colleague, Gillette orthopedic surgeon Ann Van Heest, MD, who is a program chair in addition to being one of the chief planners for this international symposium.
Van Heest and Bohn are enthusiastic about the symposium since COVID-19 forced it to be delayed. “This symposium was first started in 1989 in Paris, France,” Van Heest says. “It rotates to a different continent every three years. The last time we all gathered was in 2018 in Hong Kong. At that meeting Minneapolis was picked as the next host which was supposed to happen in 2021. We’re pleased to show off Gillette and the Twin Cities to the world.”
A long history as a leader in pediatric hand surgery
Gillette is home to nationally and internationally recognized leaders in pediatric orthopedics. This branch of medicine tries to prevent and correct problems that affect bones and muscles, including tendons and ligaments.
“Gillette has a long history of pediatric hand surgery,” Van Heest says. “The Gillette program was primarily started by surgeon James House, MD. I took over for him in 1993 and Dr. Bohn joined me shortly thereafter.”
“We provide many unique services for patients who have upper limb differences,” Van Heest adds. “Unlike many other hospitals, Gillette can provide simultaneous surgeries so that when a child has hand differences on both hands then we do the surgery simultaneously. This means that the child has half the anesthetic time.”
Gillette provides education and research to doctors from around the world
Since Gillette is a global leader in cerebral palsy care, it is hosting a special pre-course session at its main campus in St. Paul, Minnesota. Cerebral palsy describes a group of disorders that affect a person’s ability to move and maintain balance and posture. It is caused by brain injury or atypical brain development that happens around the time of birth or early life. Gillette Children’s Cerebral Palsy Institute is the world's foremost innovator in clinical care, forward-thinking research, and patient advocacy.
The focus of the Gillette pre-course is to help providers from around the world learn about caring for patients who are diagnosed with cerebral palsy and have upper limb differences.
"I'll be talking about the Gillette upper extremity tone clinic. It’s unique in this country and around the world,” Bohn says. “This symposium is a chance for doctors around the world to see how Gillette helps children who have congenital and muscular skeletal issues.”
Bohn and Van Heest are proud Gillette is a major contributor to the research that will be presented and discussed at the symposium.
“We will be presenting five important research papers,” Van Heest says. “Gillette has a very strong pediatric hand surgery research team led by Susan Novotny, PhD. Plus, we have medical students and fellows who learn a lot from working with our patient population at Gillette.”
Van Heest is presenting research she and the Gillette team did on a randomized trial for a new treatment for syndactyly separations—which occurs when there is webbing between two fingers.
Gillette is part of the national database CoULD—the Congenital Upper Limb Difference Registry.
Proud to be Me
Van Heest and Bohn are pleased their new book, Proud to be Me, published by Gillette Children’s Health Care Press, is being handed out to symposium participants. It’s a colorful new board book that is designed to teach toddlers about children of all abilities. The book teaches children about physical differences and promotes self-confidence.
“This is really the perfect audience for the book,” Bohn says. “That’s because these providers work for and care for children who have limb differences. We’re excited about it.”
The official author name on the book cover is “Polly Daktilly.” This is a play on the condition polydactyly—which means extra fingers. “If you’re familiar with hand difference conditions you might smile at the author name on the cover,” Bohn says.
Van Heest has already received nice feedback on the book from doctors around the world. “People have gotten a chuckle out of it,” Van Heest says. “A few people have also told me they get a few tears after reading it. For me, that’s fantastic.”
The 2023 World Symposium on Congenital Malformations of the Hand and Upper Limb runs through May 20, 2023 at the Graduate Hotel in Minneapolis.
The Gillette Press book Proud to be Me is available via Amazon.com.
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