UOI Surgical Team Helps Alice Get Back to Spine Health

Alice is once again living her best life, taking care of the animals on her farm and helping customers at The Barn on Rt. 26 – her popular antiques shop in Gray, Maine. However, it wasn’t long ago a severe spinal deformity threatened Alice’s way of life.

She had kyphoscoliosis – a severe spinal deformity that made her lean forward and to the side. The pain was excruciating and debilitating.

“I kept going downhill. It was getting worse by the day. I could feel it. I would probably be in a wheelchair by now,” Lisa said.

Alice’s employee, Lisa Welch, even noticed a difference.

“She would tire easily. She was walking slower. Her balance was a little compromised. She was really beat at the end of the day and she didn’t do a lot of things she used to do,” Lisa said.

To reclaim her life, Alice turned to The Center for Spine Health at University Orthopedics in Rhode Island. Nearly 200 miles from her home, a team of fellowship-trained spine surgeons – comprised of Dr. Alan Daniels, Dr. Phillip Lucas, and Dr. Eren Kuris – developed a surgical plan to straighten Alice’s spine and relieve her pain.

“She was still able to work, but was clearly struggling day-to-day. It was getting to the point where she didn’t know if she would be able to keep running this wonderful store,” said Dr. Daniels. “Patients, such as Alice, really suffer. Spinal deformity can be extremely disabling – pain, disfunction, fatigue. The good news is, we now have surgeries that can fix it in a very safe manner.”

Complex spine surgery like the one Alice underwent is not performed everywhere and is best done at centers, like University Orthopedics, that specialize in difficult spinal deformity problems.

“Providence is really a destination for complex spine surgery. We’re able to achieve the best outcomes for complex spinal problems,” Dr. Daniels said. “We’ve built a system here at University Orthopedics where we have shown the best outcomes with the quickest recovery and lowest complication rates.”

Alice made the nearly three-hour trip to University Orthopedic’s East Providence location for her surgery.
“Providence, it’s like a mini-Boston. It’s very busy. But then you get out to Kettle Point and it’s beautiful,” she said.

But it wasn’t just the view that impressed Alice.

“Everyone knew the doctors. Everyone. Right down to the person who sells snacks. They knew the doctors by name, how long they’d been there, and what their specialty was. So, I felt very comfortable,” she said. “I had a name when I was there. I wasn’t a number. They were more personable and direct with me and they were all on the same page.”

Alice said her team of surgeons walked her through the entire process and made sure she had answers to all of her questions.

“They definitely put me at ease. The morning of my surgery, Dr. Lucas, Dr. Daniels, and Dr. Kuris were at the foot of my bed. They knew what they were going to do,” Alice said. “Dr. Lucas asked me if I had any questions and I said, ‘Nope, you’ve answered all of them. Let’s roll!'”

The surgery was a huge success.

“Alice had a major, severe spinal deformity. In under six hours, we were able to straighten her spine in a safe manner without any major complications with a rapid recovery. She spent about a week here in Providence with us and was then able to come home,” said Dr. Daniels who recently traveled to Maine to check on Alice’s progress. “This is the reason I love this specialty. The reason we do this surgery is to return people to functional, healthy lives. This is the most rewarding part of the job. It’s wonderful to see her back to her full, functional life, without pain and just really thriving.”

For Alice, the surgery was life-changing.

“It’s miraculous. It’s miraculous! To be around the horses. To live on a farm and have my own shop. It’s extremely important to be able to interact with the customers,” Alice said. “Before University Orthopedics, I couldn’t stand in the driveway and talk with someone more than 10 to 15 minutes without having to sit down. Now, I could spend all day out there. People who saw me before and who see me now. They can’t believe their eyes. I don’t even look like the same person.”