The gift of fewer (surgeries)

MAGEC scoliosis surgery cropIn mid-December, a few patients gathered in Boston Children’s Hospital’s Orthopedic Center to celebrate the gift of less. Eleven-year-old Abby and 7-year-olds David and Jessica were among the first patients in the United States to have MAGEC (MAGnetic Expansion Control) surgery, a new way to treat some types of scoliosis.

Most patients with early-onset scoliosis like Abby, David and Jessica have surgery to place rods in their spine. But it’s not a one-shot deal. An orthopedic surgeon must replace rods as the child outgrows them, meaning another operation every year or so.

MAGEC rods are different. First, they’re magnetic. Second, they’re remote controlled. And third, Boston Children’s orthopedic surgeons can periodically lengthen the rods as a child grows—and keep the child’s spine straight—without surgery.

“This technology gives us the opportunity to perform a procedure that would historically require a trip to the operating room. While the MAGEC rods cannot be used in all patients with early-onset scoliosis, in those where it can be used, it can reduce the family stress, time and risks of repeat trips to the operating room under anesthesia,” says Michael Glotzbecker, MD, orthopedic surgeon in Boston Children’s Orthopedic Center.

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Tips for keeping the holidays safe, healthy and stress-free

shutterstock_115651108 (1)Stumped about what to give your child for Christmas this year? It’s easy to get lost in the whirlwind of toy store hype and holiday marketing. The Thriving staff checked in with caregivers from Boston Children’s Hospital to see what they had to say about how to make the most of the holiday season. It’s no surprise that safe and healthful options topped their holiday lists.

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A sneak peek behind the scenes of Boston Ballet’s “The Nutcracker”

“I’m trying to decide whether Drosselmeyer’s mustache is real or fake. It’s too neat to be real, but it doesn’t look fake,” says 10-year-old Ellie Pohlig, who earned a coveted spot as a page in Boston Ballet’s 2014 “The Nutcracker.”

A successful audition is an accomplishment for any dancer, but especially so for Ellie, who has high-frequency hearing loss. This type of partial deafness means Ellie has trouble hearing some consonants and sounds at higher octaves, like a woman’s voice.

“This was my third year trying out for The Nutcracker.” I was nervous at the auditions, but they went well,” says Ellie, who auditioned in a group of 50 dancers. Because Ellie is tall for a 10-year-old and Boston Ballet groups students according to height, there were fewer parts for which she could audition. “That was her main challenge,” confides Ellie’s mother, Bonnie.

Boston Ballet allowed Ellie to audition and rehearse using an FM system. “It helps me understand what the auditioner and teachers are saying. The FM makes it sound like my teacher is very close to me. Without it, I wouldn’t be able to hear her well or understand her words when she is far away.”

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Are you ready to have “the talk” with your children?

Meaghan_OKeeffe_1-193x300Do you ever have one of those days where things are going swimmingly? You’ve got the school routine down, no one has a cold and you’re silently congratulating yourself for your excellent parenting skills.

And then your child throws you a curve ball that you were completely unprepared for. Your 5-year-old daughter wants to know how babies are made.

This is how it happened to me:

Sophie: “Mommy, does every girl have a baby when she grows up?”

Me: “Well, they can if they want to, but some people don’t want to and that’s OK.”

Sophie: “Oh. Well, I want to grow a baby, so when I grow up, do I just believe, and then I’ll have a baby?”

I think I literally gulped.

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