My older sister faced the challenges of living with a disability. I saw firsthand the impact this had on her life and our entire family. The field of rehabilitation medicine lets me help patients and families living with similar challenges.
As a pediatric rehabilitation medicine doctor, I specialize in developing comprehensive rehabilitation plans for children with a wide range of disabilities. These conditions often are caused by an injury or dysfunction of the brain, spinal cord, nerves or musculoskeletal system.
I work with patients in different settings. In my general rehabilitation clinic, I care for a large variety of patients with an assortment of diagnoses. I serve as a member of two large multidisciplinary teams that treat and manage children with spina bifida and neuromuscular disorders such as muscular dystrophy. I also spend time with patients admitted to the hospital with a newly diagnosed disability from traumatic brain or spinal cord injuries, cancer or other complex medical conditions.
I enjoy developing long-term relationships with my patients and their families. I want to understand their unique challenges and goals for rehabilitation care. I strive to ensure that patients and caregivers understand why various treatments and interventions are recommended, and I provide options whenever possible.
I use a team approach to care. Many of my patients have complex conditions and see providers from diverse specialties. I reach out to other members of the care team to ensure timely communication and keep us all on the same page.
Rehabilitation care can include medications, therapy services, specialized bracing and equipment, surgery referrals and home exercise programs. Insurance companies and other funding sources often deny coverage of rehabilitation services. I serve as a strong patient advocate and work with my patients and families to ensure that coverage is provided for essential therapeutic interventions and equipment.
I believe in lifelong learning. I am committed to providing my patients with both leading edge and time-tested treatments. My patients and their families have been my greatest teachers during the past 25 years. I continually draw on this knowledge to provide effective, family-centered care.
In choosing a career, it was important to pick one that would allow me to make a meaningful difference in other’s lives. I also looked to my family. I grew up observing my father’s intense dedication to his patients as he trained the next generation of doctors. This made entering the medical profession an easy decision for me. My decision to become a physical medicine and rehabilitation specialist was also an easy one, thanks to my sister’s experiences.
In medical school, I felt that patients with chronic issues that led to disability were largely underserved. Traditional medicine focuses on finding a cure. I wanted to treat the whole patient and the family by improving function and quality of life — especially when a cure is not possible. The field of pediatric rehabilitation medicine was in its infancy when I was in medical school. I enjoyed entering a new field that was so full of possibilities. One of the most fulfilling parts of my career has been the chance to help foster the growth and development of pediatric rehabilitation medicine and participate in the training of many young doctors.
I’m honored to have been recognized as one of America’s Top Doctors by Castle Connolly and as a Best Doctor in America by Exceptional Women in Medicine. I’ve also received the Distinguished Clinician Award from the American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. I was elected to the American Board of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Executive Committee and serve as chair of the Pediatric Rehabilitation Committee.
When I’m not at work, I enjoy spending time with my husband and our large extended families. I love watching my three children grow and develop through their hobbies, sports and academics. I also enjoy spending time in my garden and trying out new recipes.
Neuromuscular disorders; myelomeningocele
Professor, UC Department of Pediatrics
Rehabilitation Medicine, Neuromuscular Disorders, Spina Bifida