Tag Archives: neurosurgery

All in this together – Chiari surgery update

As a follow-up to Friday’s post about the VanBaak family and Parker and Zoey’s chiari decompression surgeries, we’re pleased to update that both surgeries went very well and both have been recovering over the weekend and were discharged this afternoon!

Chiari malformation is a serious neurological disorder where the bottom part of the brain, the cerebellum, descends out of the skull and crowds the spinal cord, putting pressure on both brain and spine.

Parker poses with newly stitched up Beau the Bear.

Parker poses with newly stitched up Beau the Bear.

Chiari patients around the world, like Parker and Zoey, have affectionately branded themselves as “zipperheads” based on the zipper-like incision they get up the back of the head and neck following their decompression surgeries.

For their courageous time at Beaumont Children’s Hospital, Zoey and Parker were each given a stuffed Beau the Bear, with a scar that is similar to their own, to mark this important event in their lives. The even better news for Zoey and Parker is that Dr. Holly Gilmer, their Beaumont neurosurgeon, has refined her own incision process and the VanBaak siblings will actually come out of surgery with a much smaller, thin pencil-line incision covered only with steri-strips and no stitches.

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Conquering Chiari

These purple and orange bracelets were given to the family from Beaumont's neuroscience department in support of this important day.

These purple and orange bracelets were gifts to the family from Beaumont’s neuroscience department in support of this important day. Purple is the official color of chiari awareness.

The VanBaak family woke up this morning knowing that not one, but two of their children would be undergoing surgery today. Parker, 5, and Zoey, 7, were both diagnosed with chiari malformation and are undergoing chiari decompression surgeries one right after another.

Chiari malformation is a neurological disorder where the bottom part of the brain, the cerebellum, descends out of the skull and crowds the spinal cord, putting pressure on both brain and spine.

Their surgeon, Dr. Holly Gilmer, medical director of Pediatric Neurosurgery at Beaumont, believes that having both children in recovery at the same time will cause less stress on the family than scheduling the surgeries on different days.

While the family sits anxiously in the waiting area, they’ve been visited by members of the Southeastern Michigan Chiari Support Group throughout the day. Bronx, one of the support group’s therapy dogs, also spent time with the family to alleviate some stress.

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