Upstate Orthopedics

Patient Stories

Kristen is enjoying the good life now!
A mother’s story:

upstateorthopedicsWhen Kristen was 5 years old, we took her to the pediatrician’s office for a sore throat. While there, they noticed one hip was higher than the other, so they promptly checked her back because they suspected scoliosis. We were then sent to one of our local hospitals for x-rays, which confirmed scoliosis and after a talk with our Pediatrician, he gave us a subsequent referral to the Syracuse hospital. Geez, we just thought she had strep throat! I wish it was only that.

Kristen’s first appointment in Syracuse was for a couple of MRI’s, and for a 5 year old, that’s pretty scary. But she was such a trooper and never moved during the MRI’s. In fact, the technician said she was the best patient he ever had! Well, the MRI revealed that Kristen had Chiari Malformation and after speaking with the doctor, he told us that Kristen needed skull surgery to fix the problem. Apparently, where her brain stem and spinal cord met, there was not enough room for the spinal fluid to recirculate back up to the brain, so it was accumulating in her spine like a slow-filling balloon. They had to make the hole/entry point in her skull larger to accommodate the fluid. The morning of her surgery was the scariest moment of our lives, but the staff at the hospital made everything easier to deal with and Kristen’s surgery went absolutely fine. Two weeks later, she was jumping off the couch again!

Flash forward a year and several checkups later. Although the skull surgery was a success, Kristen’s back wasn’t getting better so we were referred to Dr. Kathryn Palomino at Upstate Orthopedics. On March 5, 2010, Kristen was fitted with her first back brace to help manage her scoliosis. The hope was to keep the scoliosis from getting worse. Do you have any idea how hard it is to tell a kid to keep a back brace on for 18-20 hours a day? Her biggest fear was that her friends would make fun of her because of the brace, even though she wore it under her clothes and you couldn’t see it. Her friends were great and even helped her, but there were a couple of kids she still worried about. So, to ease her worries, I wrote a little book explaining what scoliosis was, including a picture of her x-ray and several pictures of celebrities with scoliosis. I then took this book to school and read it to Kristen’s 2nd grade classmates. The book helped the kids understand what Kristen was going through, and at the end we had every child try on Kristen’s back brace so they understood what she was going through. It was the best thing we could have done because it helped other kids understand the problem of scoliosis.

For the next four years, Kristen went through several back braces as she grew. Unfortunately, her growth spurts are what made the scoliosis worse. On January 23, Kristen received devastating news that she needed back surgery because her back was now at a 53 degree curvature. When we had additional x-rays in May, only four months later, her back had gotten worse, progressing to a 65 degree curvature!

We delayed her surgery to July 7, 2014 so Kristen could enjoy one last year of softball. You see, she was the pitcher for her town softball team with whom she played for roughly four years. After July 7th she would be unable to play any sports for one year so her back had time to heal.

upstateorthopedicsOne the morning of July 7th, we traveled to Golisano Children’s Hospital for surgery. We also decided to have her back ribs “shaved” due to the malformation (or better called a “hump”) that had occurred from the years of scoliosis. We were originally told the surgery could take up to 8 hours. We were shocked when they called us after 4 ½ hours that they were done with her surgery! Everything went fine! The hospital staff had her up and walking the next day and could not believe her determination and rate of recovery. While she was at home recovering, she did take the time to enjoy her other hobbies of crafts, drawing, light swimming and hanging out with her friends.

Kristen’s most recent appointment with Dr. Palomino on August 4, 2015 was the best appointment ever! Not only was her back healing fine, but her ribs are growing back nicely and to top it off, Kristen was cleared to play sports! On the way home, we bought Kristen a new pair of running sneakers because she can’t wait to to out for track! We’ve never been so happy to see our daughter run again, play and be free from the holds of scoliosis.

We never could have gotten through this without the help, patience and expertise of Dr. Palomino and the staff at Upstate Orthopedics. Kristen likes Dr. Palomino because she took the time to talk to her, didn’t rush her and made her feel like she really mattered. As parents, we like Dr. Palomino because she was honest, patient, intelligent, and selfless. She never spoke down to us like a lot of doctors will do. Dr. Palomino has her own teenage son, but still took the time to stop to see Kristen at the hospital at 7:30pm. Dr. Palomino saved our daughter from an uncertain future and we will never be able to repay her for that. From the bottom of our heart, thank you so much Dr. Palomino.

Kristen is enjoying the good life now! Jump for joy and run, Forrest, run!

Kristen’s mom

They care. They remember us. And they always have time for us.

Scott was in a household accident when he was 2-1/2 and he lost his right arm. During one of the most unimaginable times in their family's life, Scott's mother Jennifer was comforted by Upstate Orthopedics. "You know a practice by how people represent that office and there was never a moment where we were talked to like there wasn't time for us. The staff, nurses and Dr. Harley were beyond amazing. Sporting a smile a mile wide, there isn't anything Scott can't do or try now, and it's because of the expertise and attention from Upstate Orthopedics."

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We weren't understood until we were at Upstate Orthopedics

Stefania is a Polish immigrant who brought her daughter to America for a chance at a great education, and that chance almost had to be sacrificed when Stefania became debilitated. "Other doctors told us that nothing could be done," her daughter Ewa shares. "Dr. Scerpella, from the very first visit, confidently instilled hope and made a connection with us. She promised us that we'd get through it and that my mom would get better. And she did - better physically for sure, but above all, this proud, independent woman was better emotionally."

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Upstate Orthopedics means business

Sara was only 12 when her arm was severed in a farming accident. The doctors locally claimed it couldn't be saved, but her mother pushed and got Sara to Upstate, nearly 3 hours away. After a 14-1/2 hour surgery by Dr. Loftus, her arm was reattached.

Some of her peers picked on her once she was well enough to return to school after the accident, but she paid them no mind and considered her scars "beauty scars." "Everything happens for a reason," shes shares with a bright smile and a positive attitude.

Now seeing Sara years into recovery holding her newborn son in the very arm that others said couldn't be saved...well, there's one reason right there. Without Upstate Orthopedics, it would not have been possible.

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Connection is everything

Mike Felice played lacrosse for SUNY Cortland and was part of the 2006 National Championship team. (Below you'll see him scoring the winning goal!) Dr. Cannizzaro from Upstate Orthopedics was the team physician for the entire four years Mike was at Cortland and saw him through many injuries. "Knee, ankle, a couple concussions – you name it!" Mike laughs. Dr. Cannizzaro performed Mike's ACL surgery right after college and helped him realize that he didn't need to rush his recovery – he needed to put things in perspective, take care of himself and get better properly.

"Upstate Orthopedics is completely different. I don't go in and feel like they're just there to see me and throw me out the door, like other places I've been to. There's this CONNECTION here. They don't just focus on what's wrong  they want to know more about who you ARE. And to an athlete – or any patient – that means everything."

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Meghan Page had knee surgery at Upstate Orthopedics when she was a teenager. Now on her feet all day as a nurse, she can't help but wonder if it would have been possible without the excellent care she received.


Jake Halter was 12 when his knees started locking up. His time as a baseball catcher came to a halt due to the excrutiating periods of pain and immobility and a fear of physical activity. After surgery at Upstate Orthopedics, he was finally able to "not think about it and just DO."

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