Pediatric Neurosurgery

Children's of Alabama Neurosurgery TeamThe Division of Pediatric Neurosurgery at Children’s of Alabama and the University of Alabama at Birmingham is dedicated to providing the very best of care for children who need neurosurgical treatment or evaluation. Our entire team is committed to clinical excellence in an environment that emphasizes the safety and comfort of our patients and families. We provide a full range of pediatric neurosurgical services that incorporates the newest technologies and procedures, as well as compassionate family-centered care within the finest of pediatric medical centers. We consider it a privilege to care for your child and family.

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Our Neurosurgery Team



Jeffrey P. Blount, MDJeffrey P. Blount, MD

Dr. Blount is Chief of Pediatric Neurosurgery, Professor of Neurosurgery at UAB and is board certified by the American Board of Neurological Surgery and the American Board of Pediatric Neurological Surgery. He is President of the Medical Staff of Children’s of Alabama and a member of the American Society of Pediatric Neurosurgery, the American Epilepsy Society and the Pediatric Section of the AANS/CNS. Dr. Blount is the past chair of the Professional Advisory Council of the Spina Bifida Association of America and has recently completed service on the Accreditation Council of Pediatric Neurosurgery Fellowships.

Full Profile


James M. Johnston, MDJames M. Johnston, MD

James M. Johnston grew up in Denver Colorado and attended Washington and Lee University in Virginia for undergraduate studies. He then received his M.D. degree from Washington University School of Medicine in Saint Louis in 2002 and completed Neurosurgery residency in the Washington University Department of Neurosurgery from 2003-2006. He pursued post-doctoral training in functional and diffusion tensor MR imaging at the Mallinckrodt Institute of Radiology Neuro-Imaging Laboratories from 2006-2008. During this time, he also served as neurosurgical registrar at the National Referral Centre for Neurosurgery, Beaumont Hospital in Dublin, Ireland from July to December 2007. Dr. Johnston was then named Chief Resident in Neurosurgery at Barnes Hospital from 2008-2009 and went on to complete fellowship training in pediatric neurosurgery at Saint Louis Children's Hospital in 2010.

He is a member of the Congress of Neurological Surgeons, American Association of Neurological Surgeons, International Society of Pediatric Neurosurgeons and the Children’s Oncology Group.

Full Profile


W. Jerry Oakes, MDW. Jerry Oakes, MD

W. Jerry Oakes was born and raised in DeSoto, Missouri and pursued his undergraduate university education  at the University of Missouri-Columbia. He completed his medical school training and neurosurgery residency at Duke University. During his residency, he spent a year in Toronto, first in neurology and then in pediatric neurosurgery at the Hospital for Sick Children. Following the completion of his residency, he spent the next year in Europe; first at Great Ormond Street Hospital for Sick Children in London and then in Zurich with Professor Gazi Yasargil.

Returning to Duke, he spent the next fourteen years, developing the pediatric neurosurgical service. In 1992, he and his family relocated to Birmingham, Alabama and the Children's Hospital where he assumed the directorship of the Section of Pediatric Neurosurgery. Dr. Oakes is currently the Dan Hendley Professor of Pediatrics and Neurosurgery. In the past twenty-four years, he has served as the Section Head of Pediatric Neurosurgery, chief of staff of Children’s Hospital of Alabama and Chief of Surgery at Children’s of Alabama. Nationally he has served as the editor in chief of Journal of Neurosurgery; Pediatrics and president of the American Society of Pediatric Neurosurgeons. He served many years on the American Board of Pediatric Neurosurgery first as a director and then as vice-chair.

W. Jerry Oakes has retired and is no longer seeing patients in clinic or performing surgeries.

Full Profile


Curtis J. Rozzelle, MDCurtis J. Rozzelle, MD

Curtis J. Rozzelle grew up in Western North Carolina and attended Duke University as an undergraduate.  He then served as an artillery officer in the United States Army in Germany. He received his MD degree from the Bowman Gray School of Medicine at Wake Forest University and then completed residency in Neurosurgery at UAB School of Medicine.  Dr. Rozzelle went on to complete fellowships in Pediatric Neurosurgery at the University of Texas-Southwestern Medical Branch, in Dallas and epilepsy surgery at the University Of South Florida College Of Medicine in Tampa. Dr. Rozzelle is a member of the American Epilepsy Society, the American Society of Pediatric Neurosurgeons, and the Pediatric Section of the AANS/CNS and is active in the Council of State Neurosurgical Societies. He is board-certified by both the American Board of Neurological Surgery and the American Board of Pediatric Neurological Surgery.

Full Profile


Brandon Rocque, MDBrandon Rocque, MD

Brandon G. Rocque is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Neurosurgery. His primary focus is pediatric neurosurgery, including care for hydrocephalus, spina bifida, pediatric brain tumors, spasticity, peripheral nerve injuries, and Chiari malformation. In addition, Dr. Rocque practices general adult neurosurgery at the Birmingham VA Medical Center, with a focus on care for spinal disorders. He is certified by the American Board of Neurological Surgery, and is an active member of the AANS, CNS, the Joint Section on Pediatric Neurosurgery, and the American Society of Pediatric Neurosurgeons.

Dr. Rocque’s research focuses on improving the experience of care for children with neurosurgical conditions and their families. He received a grant from the Kaul Pediatric Research Institute for his work to improve the transition process from pediatric to adult care for individuals with spina bifida. He received a UAB CCTS KL2 award to support his research on distress and psychosocial risk among families of children with newly diagnosed brain tumors. In addition to those ongoing projects, Dr. Rocque is exploring the psychological effects of a lifetime of neurosurgical encounters for children with hydrocephalus.

Dr. Rocque was born and raised in Atlanta, GA. He attended the University of Georgia, where he was a member of the NCAA top-ten men’s swim team and graduated summa cum laude with majors in chemistry and biology. He received his medical degree from Washington University in St. Louis and went on to neurosurgery residency at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. During residency, he completed a Master’s Degree in Clinical Investigation. Dr. Rocque spent an additional year in Madison for a fellowship in Complex and Reconstructive Spinal Surgery prior to completing his training with the renowned pediatric neurosurgery fellowship at Children’s of Alabama.

Full Profile


Nurse Coordinators


Jenna Wrightson, RNJenna Wrightson, RN, BSN

Jenna Wrightson joined the Pediatric Neurosurgical service in August 2015. She has been a nurse at Children's of Alabama since January 2010 with specialized experience in inpatient pulmonary care as well as operating room experience in neurosurgery and orthopedic surgery. She received her BSN degree from the University of Alabama.


Morgan Dew, RN, BSNMorgan Dew, RN, BSN

Morgan grew up in Montgomery, Alabama and moved to Birmingham after finishing her degree at Troy University in 2014. She initially worked in the operating room at Children's of Alabama with the Neurosurgery Team. She transferred to us in August 2016, where she primarily serves as a Pediatric Nurse for Dr. Jeffrey Blount.


Nadine Bradley RN, BSNNadine Bradley RN, BSN

Nadine Bradley grew up in Beirut, Lebanon and immigrated to Alabama. She is a graduate of  Samford University School of Nursing in 1997.  She initially worked as the coordinator in the Neurosurgery Clinic.

Her talent was immediately recognized by the Neurosurgery team and we were privileged to have her join the Pediatric Neurosurgery team in 2004. She functions primarily as the Nurse Clinician for Dr. James Johnston.


Tammie Kerr RN, BSNTammie Kerr RN, BSN

Tammie Kerr is from Corner, Alabama and is a graduate of the BSN  School of Nursing at Jacksonville University in Fla. She has been a valued member of the Children's of Alabama staff for more than 20 years and came to the Pediatric Neurosurgery team in 2010 having most recently served as Director of the Operating Room at Children's Hospital and the Neuro-team preceptor and Educator in the Children's Hospital Operating Room. She functions primarily as Nurse-Clinician for Dr. Brandon Rocque.


Research Staff


Anastasia Arynchyna, MPHAnastasia Arynchyna, MPH, CCRP

Anastasia Arynchyna is the Research Manager of Pediatric Neurosurgery. Anastasia grew up in Minsk, Belarus. She has graduated with Bachelors of Science in Chemistry and Masters in Public Health in Maternal and Child Health Policy from the University of Alabama at Birmingham in 2012. She joined our team in 2011. She plays an essential part in improving and expanding the research efforts in the division. Her duties range from study design, regulatory compliance to manuscript preparation. She is also our site coordinator for the HCRN and the Park-Reeves Syringomyelia Research Consortium. Her research interests include prematurity, non-accidental trauma and spina bifida. Anastasia enjoys working and mentoring medical and graduate students interested in clinical research.

HCRN Research Coordinator
Email
anastasia.arynchyna@childrensal.org


Betsy Hopson, MSHABetsy Hopson, MSHA

Betsy Hopson is the Program Coordinator of the Spina Bifida Program at Children’s of Alabama and the University of Alabama at Birmingham. She has been instrumental in managing multi-disciplinary programs for patients with chronic multifaceted conditions. She has also been an integral part of developing and maintaining national registries designed to improve patient outcomes and standardize care through the creation of national networks. She most recently has become a leader in the Spina Bifida community for her efforts toward creating a model for positive, optimal transition.

Betsy has a Bachelor of Science in Healthcare Management from Huntingdon College and is a graduate candidate for a Master’s of Science in Healthcare Management in May 2014. She has spent the last 7 years conducting research on various topics relating to Spina Bifida care and etiology. She also serves as the President of the Spina Bifida Association of Alabama and serves on several national committees with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Spina Bifida Association. She received the Outstanding Spina Bifida Champion Award from the Spina Bifida Association as well as the SBA Partnership Collaboration Award in June 2011.


Kathrin ZimmermanKathrin Zimmerman

Kathrin Zimmerman is an MD/MSPH student at the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Medicine. She currently serves as a full-time pediatric neurosurgery Clinical Research Fellow, funded by a 12-month TL1 Pre-Doctoral Training Grant through the Center for Clinical and Translational Science (CCTS). Her research interests include hydrocephalus, spina bifida, global health, and psychosocial aspects of neurosurgical care.



Pediatric Neurosurgery Treatment Programs

Children's of Alabama FoundationThe Division of Pediatric Neurosurgery at UAB/Children’s of Alabama encompasses the full range of operative and non-operative services for children with structural abnormalities of the brain, spine and peripheral nervous system. This includes brain tumors, trauma, hydrocephalus, spina bifida, congenital malformations, birth related injuries, spasticity, epilepsy and spinal and vascular anomalies. We emphasize multidisciplinary care and a child- and family-centered care model that hinges on compassion and state-of-the-art surgical care.


Diagnoses We Treat:

Specialty Clinic Contact Information


Patient Stories

browder_jacob.jpgLike many teenage boys in the smaller towns of Alabama, Jacob Browder’s life was filled with friends, school, football -- and the rodeo. “He has always been a cowboy,” his mother, Susan, said. “He has always had a heart for rodeo.”

He started bull riding at age 13 and participated in 12 competitions, including the Youth World Finals in Texas the summer of 2013. That prestigious event draws competitors from all over the globe and only the best are invited to participate.

Jacob's Story


lightsey_kace.jpgImagine having a 7-year-old son with epilepsy – a son who for two years has been experiencing up to 40 seizures each day.

School is virtually impossible. The wood and metal desks are dangerous; the block walls in the cafeteria are dangerous. Everything around him becomes a danger when he has a seizure.

Kace's Story


lytle_oliver.jpgThe Lytle family’s experience with neurological disease began when Kelly and Rich’s youngest son, Oliver, was just four-and-a-half years old in 2011. After a sudden and unexpected seizure, an electroencephalogram (EEG) found abnormal spiking on the left side of his brain, confirming he had epilepsy. For almost two years, medication controlled it. But eventually, no medication was working; Oliver was experiencing intractable epilepsy. “It was a rough time,” Kelly said. “Oliver was having numerous breakthrough seizures, even though we had tried a lot of different kinds of medications.”

Oliver's Story


mcintyre_kaileb.jpgWhen Kaileb McIntyre was born nearly 14 weeks before his due date in April, 2012, his doctors expected that he would face many of the problems typical for premature babies. “He weighed only 2 lbs. 2 oz. and he had a lot of complications that came along with him being so small, so he had a tough time starting from when he was born,” said his mother, Khalena McIntyre.

Kaileb's Story


vick_noah.jpgFor Laura Ruth Padgett and her son, Noah Vick, life changed in an instant. One day while playing out on his condo balcony without his mother’s knowledge, Noah slipped and fell five stories.

Noah's Story


struble_robin.jpgIt was a shift gone unnoticed by everyone but Robert Struble. His then-12-year-old daughter, Robin, would stare into space and cease to speak. The episodes would end as soon as they began, each one fleeting – over in a flash.

Robin's Story


Residency Training

fellowship_resident_training.jpgAs part of the UAB Department of Neurosurgery Residency Training Program, residents interested in pediatric neurosurgery receive extensive exposure to the subspecialty. UAB Neurosurgery residents rotate through pediatrics during their third and sixth years. The pediatric neurosurgery faculty are committed to residency training and regularly mentor residents on research projects. Several UAB Neurosurgery residency graduates have gone on to successfully pursue careers in pediatric neurosurgery.






Fellowship Training

The fellowship program offered at UAB/Children’s of Alabama is one year in duration and is fully accredited by the Accreditation Council for Pediatric Neurosurgery Fellowships. As such, graduating fellows are fully qualified to sit for the American Board of Pediatric Neurosurgery Exam that enables them to attain ABPNS Board Certification in Pediatric Neurosurgery.

Our fellows are among the best trained and most distinguished graduating residents in neurosurgery training programs in North America. We are proud that all of the UAB/COA fellows have successfully completed ABPNS certification, and the vast majority have continued to pursue either exclusively or predominantly pediatric neurosurgery. Many have gone on to leading positions in pediatric neurosurgery at distinguished pediatric medical centers around the country.

During the course of the fellowship, the pediatric neurosurgery fellow is fundamentally involved in the day-to-day operations of the busy clinical service. General clinical exposure is attained in the operating room, the clinics, inpatient wards and conferences. Each fellow receives extensive operative experience in the full range of pediatric neurosurgery cases, as well as experience with the important decision making that goes on perioperatively. The fellow presents several talks at the Pediatric Section of the AANS/CNS meeting in December and produces at least 6-8 manuscripts (range 4-24 papers) for the peer-reviewed literature in pediatric neurosurgery.

Residents interested in pursuing fellowship training at UAB/COA should contact Amy Finch, divisional administrator, with a letter of interest and intent during the summer preceding their last year of residency. Interviews are coordinated and conducted in early autumn. The fellowship position is filled via the annual San Francisco match in pediatric neurosurgery that occurs in late November or early December.

Requirements for Fellowship Eligibility

  1. Successful completion of a residency program approved for certification by the American Board of Neurological Surgery (ABNS).
  2. Eligibility to obtain a medical license in the state of Alabama, USA.
  3. Successful (passing) completion of Part I of the American Board of Neurological Surgery examination.

Links
Accreditation Council for Pediatric Neurosurgery Fellowships
American Board of Pediatric Neurosurgery
American Association of Neurological Surgeons
Congress of Neurological Surgeons
ABNS Residency Program


Past Fellows and Where They Are Now



Research

epilepsy_group.jpgClinical care of pediatric patients is the primary focus of Division of Pediatric Neurosurgery. Secondary to that is improving patient care through extensive and high-quality research efforts. Our division has more than 35 active research projects in such areas as hydrocephalus, spina bifida, epilepsy, chiari, head trauma, brain tumors, craniosynostosis, and cerebral palsy.

Hydrocephalus

We are one of the founding sites of the Hydrocephalus Clinical Research Network (HCRN) and are the largest contributor since 2008. Currently, there are eight active protocols ranging from participation in the registry to a randomized clinical trial. Funding includes contributions from the Hydrocephalus Association and the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute. Research in the division has also led to the development and validation of a complement biomarker for shunt infection and meningitis. 

Chiari I Malformation

For the past 7 years, we have substantially contributed to the Park Reeves Syringomyelia Research Consortium (PRSRC), which is focused on improving surgical care of children with Chiari I malformation and Syringomyelia. Due to the diligent work of the consortium, a clustered randomized trial has been initiated and is currently enrolling surgical patients. Funding ranges from private donations to the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute.

Brain Tumors

In collaboration with the UAB Department of Pediatrics, we are currently conducting the first ever NIH-funded clinical trial of intratumoral injection of oncolytic virus for the treatment of recurrent malignant brain tumors in children. We have treated children from all over the United States and Canada, with plans to expand the trial to multiple centers in 2018.

Head Trauma

Our division has spearheaded concussion research in collaboration with the departments of Sports Medicine, Rehabilitation and Psychology. We have established a concussion patient registry and institution-wide concussion care protocol based on international best practice standards. In cooperation with Children’s of Alabama, we host annual educational concussion summits for medical staff and the public. Video analysis of helmet-to-helmet impacts in football players has led to a successful NIH R25 grant studying the biomechanics and MRI correlates of sports concussion. In addition, collaboration with the UAB School of Engineering has resulted in a novel football helmet design that was recently licensed by the innovative football helmet company VICIS (Seattle).

Spina Bifida

We are a leading site in the CDC funded Spina Bifida Patient Registry since 2008. New projects were initiated with registry as a starting point. New research protocols include transitioning from pediatric to adult care and fertility of adult spina bifida patients. Acceptance of 26 abstracts by World Congress of Spina Bifida in 2017 demonstrates our dedication and diligence to research efforts.

Cerebral Palsy

We are one of the original sites of the Cerebral Palsy Research Network (CPRN). Currently, CPRN is focused on establishing a patient registry and infection protocol.

Other areas

We have recently begun a multidisciplinary effort to study post-traumatic stress symptoms in children with chronic conditions and the importance of psychosocial services for patients with new neurosurgical diagnosis. Other ongoing clinical studies include outcomes in endoscopic craniosynostosis surgery, craniopharyngioma biology and genetics of congenital neurosurgical disease. 


Contact Research Manager

Anastasia Arynchyna, MPH

Anastasia Arynchyna, MPH



Global Surgery IconThe Children’s of Alabama Global Surgery Program seeks to expand and enhance Children’s pediatric surgical and medical expertise through collaborative, reciprocal arrangements with medical communities in targeted parts of the world. Through this global initiative, surgeons travel to partner pediatric hospitals worldwide to perform surgery, educate, and provide expertise in the creation of standardized management protocols for complex surgical diseases. Additionally, surgeons and research coordinators from those partner institutions travel to Birmingham for training fellowships to advance their knowledge and skills, and to participate in research endeavors.

africa_group.jpgThe program is newly formalized, building on the experience of surgeons from the divisions of general surgery, orthopedic surgery, plastic surgery, neurosurgery and cardiovascular surgery who have been making these overseas trips for years. Their work established the foundation of the program, but the need to coordinate the outreach within a structured initiative became increasingly apparent, both logistically and financially.

Craniofacial surgeons John Grant, M.D., and James Johnston, M.D., recently returned from a trip to the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital in Kumasi, Ghana where they worked with previous Global Surgery Fellows Solomon Yeboah, M.D., and Frank Boakye, M.D., to establish the first craniofacial program in Sub-Saharan Africa. Johnston and pediatric neurosurgeon Jerry Oakes, M.D., travel regularly to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam to work with previous Global Surgery Fellow Can Dang Do Thanh, M.D., to perform and teach complex brain tumor, craniofacial and neuroendoscopic surgery. Brandon Rocque, M.D., is working with current Global Surgery Fellow Lien Nguyen Duc, M.D., to establish a pediatric surgical epilepsy program at the National Viet Duc Hospital in Hanoi, Vietnam.

rocque_vietnam.jpgThe partner hospitals typically serve a very large regional population – 40 million in Ho Chi Minh City, for example -- and have a strong infrastructure and good facilities, but their staffs have not enjoyed the benefits of advanced training available in the United States. During the one-to-two-week trips, the Children’s surgeon will see patients in clinic alongside local physicians to determine which cases need immediate attention, which ones can wait and which will present a valuable educational experience for the local surgeon.

The reciprocal agreement with these foreign hospitals provides training opportunities to their physicians. Surgeons and residents are brought to Birmingham to observe procedures, discuss cases, and attend meetings and continuing education conferences. The usual stay is three months, during which time they are housed in apartments near the Children’s campus at the hospital’s expense.


Modern Technology Provides a Virtual Presence via VIPAR

vietnam_group.jpgA crucial component of the Children’s of Alabama global pediatric surgery outreach initiative is the use of technology by neurosurgeon James Johnston, M.D., that allows him to create a real-time presence in operating rooms on the other side of the world. Virtual Interactive Presence and Augmented Reality, or VIPAR, is an Internet-based telemedicine system that employs iPad and standard internet to stream video between Birmingham and remote sites. It was originally developed by Bart Guthrie, Professor of Neurosurgery at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and has since been commercialized for use in multiple applications by the Department of Defense, Walmart, Medtronic and other large corporations.

How does VIPAR work? Surgeons at Children’s Hospital #2 in Ho Chi Minh City use an iPad to stream real-time images of an endoscopic third ventriculostomy with choroid plexus cauterization. Johnston follows the procedure from his tablet and can advise as needed. “I can interact with surgeons in Vietnam during the actual surgery,” he said. “It’s like I’m in the OR with them. We only use it for neurosurgery now, but we hope to adapt it to be valuable for other surgeries as well, specifically laparoscopy and microsurgery.” Details of the initiative, the first of its kind in the world, were recently published in World Neurosurgery.

Involvement by other surgery teams

General pediatric surgeons Mike Chen, M.D., and his wife, Elizabeth Beierle, M.D., have made 10 trips to Vietnam since 2008, visiting children’s hospitals in Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi and Da Nang. On a recent trip, they were joined by other general pediatric surgeons, pediatric urologists, anesthesiologists and support personnel. Vietnamese medical students served as interpreters. The group participated in a weekly tumor board conference and discussed care on 17 children, consulted in the pediatric surgery conference and reviewed care on over 30 children. They also operated on 16 children with complicated congenital anomalies, tumors and complex urological issues.

Global Surgery Program Map SmallChildren’s surgeons currently work with partner hospitals in Kenya, Ghana, Vietnam and Mexico. Orthopedic surgeon Shawn Gilbert, M.D., performs surgery and trains Kenyan surgeons in complex procedures for spine and leg deformities at Kijabe CURE Hospital in Kenya. Robert J. Dabal, M.D. travels with a multidisciplinary team from Children’s to perform and teach advanced cardiovascular surgery at the Hospital de Especialidades Pediatricas in Chiapas, Mexico.




Articles

Inside Pediatric Magazine: International Outreach Initiative Spans the Globe


Contact Us

Children's of Alabama
Clinic 15
1600 7th Avenue South
Birmingham, AL 35233
Directions to McWane Building
Campus Map (pdf)
Campus Map-Spanish (pdf)

Parking Information:
1600 7th Avenue South Parking Deck. Located directly across from the Russell Campus.
*Please remember to bring your parking ticket with you to validate at the time of your clinic visit.


If you have an appointment at the Huntsville clinic:

Huntsville
North Alabama Children’s Specialists
502 Governors Drive SW
Huntsville, AL 35801
Phone: 205-638-9653

Imaging will be done at Huntsville Women and Children’s Center
Driving Directions to Huntsville Clinic


If you are a visiting a child in the hospital:

Directions
Children’s of Alabama Benjamin Russell Hospital
1600 5th Avenue South
Birmingham, AL 35233
Directions to main hospital

Parking Information:
1600 5th Avenue South Parking Deck. Located directly across from the Children’s of Alabama Benjamin Russell Hospital.
*Please remember to bring your parking ticket with you to validate at the time of your visit.

Transportation
If you do not have a way of transportation to your child’s clinic visit, please call Kid One at 1-800-843-7143 or visit their website.


Business Address:
1600 7th Avenue South
Lowder 400
Birmingham, AL 35233
Phone: 205-638-9653
FAX: 205-638-9972

Children’s of Alabama Operator:
205-638-9100

Emails:
Epilepsy Coordinator
HCRN Site Manager
Spina Bifida Coordinator

Mailing Address:
Children's of Alabama
Pediatric Neurosurgery
1600 7th Avenue South
Birmingham, AL 35233
205-638-9653 phone
205-638-9972 fax


Children’s South
1940 Elmer J. Bissell Road
Birmingham, AL 35243

Only imaging may be done at this location. No clinic appointments will be held here.
Driving Directions to Children’s South
Children’s South Map



Pediatric Neurosurgery

Children's of Alabama Neurosurgery TeamThe Division of Pediatric Neurosurgery at Children’s of Alabama and the University of Alabama at Birmingham is dedicated to providing the very best of care for children who need neurosurgical treatment or evaluation. Our entire team is committed to clinical excellence in an environment that emphasizes the safety and comfort of our patients and families. We provide a full range of pediatric neurosurgical services that incorporates the newest technologies and procedures, as well as compassionate family-centered care within the finest of pediatric medical centers. We consider it a privilege to care for your child and family.

Refer a Patient

 

Our Neurosurgery Team



Jeffrey P. Blount, MDJeffrey P. Blount, MD

Dr. Blount is Chief of Pediatric Neurosurgery, Professor of Neurosurgery at UAB and is board certified by the American Board of Neurological Surgery and the American Board of Pediatric Neurological Surgery. He is President of the Medical Staff of Children’s of Alabama and a member of the American Society of Pediatric Neurosurgery, the American Epilepsy Society and the Pediatric Section of the AANS/CNS. Dr. Blount is the past chair of the Professional Advisory Council of the Spina Bifida Association of America and has recently completed service on the Accreditation Council of Pediatric Neurosurgery Fellowships.

Full Profile


James M. Johnston, MDJames M. Johnston, MD

James M. Johnston grew up in Denver Colorado and attended Washington and Lee University in Virginia for undergraduate studies. He then received his M.D. degree from Washington University School of Medicine in Saint Louis in 2002 and completed Neurosurgery residency in the Washington University Department of Neurosurgery from 2003-2006. He pursued post-doctoral training in functional and diffusion tensor MR imaging at the Mallinckrodt Institute of Radiology Neuro-Imaging Laboratories from 2006-2008. During this time, he also served as neurosurgical registrar at the National Referral Centre for Neurosurgery, Beaumont Hospital in Dublin, Ireland from July to December 2007. Dr. Johnston was then named Chief Resident in Neurosurgery at Barnes Hospital from 2008-2009 and went on to complete fellowship training in pediatric neurosurgery at Saint Louis Children's Hospital in 2010.

He is a member of the Congress of Neurological Surgeons, American Association of Neurological Surgeons, International Society of Pediatric Neurosurgeons and the Children’s Oncology Group.

Full Profile


W. Jerry Oakes, MDW. Jerry Oakes, MD

W. Jerry Oakes was born and raised in DeSoto, Missouri and pursued his undergraduate university education  at the University of Missouri-Columbia. He completed his medical school training and neurosurgery residency at Duke University. During his residency, he spent a year in Toronto, first in neurology and then in pediatric neurosurgery at the Hospital for Sick Children. Following the completion of his residency, he spent the next year in Europe; first at Great Ormond Street Hospital for Sick Children in London and then in Zurich with Professor Gazi Yasargil.

Returning to Duke, he spent the next fourteen years, developing the pediatric neurosurgical service. In 1992, he and his family relocated to Birmingham, Alabama and the Children's Hospital where he assumed the directorship of the Section of Pediatric Neurosurgery. Dr. Oakes is currently the Dan Hendley Professor of Pediatrics and Neurosurgery. In the past twenty-four years, he has served as the Section Head of Pediatric Neurosurgery, chief of staff of Children’s Hospital of Alabama and Chief of Surgery at Children’s of Alabama. Nationally he has served as the editor in chief of Journal of Neurosurgery; Pediatrics and president of the American Society of Pediatric Neurosurgeons. He served many years on the American Board of Pediatric Neurosurgery first as a director and then as vice-chair.

W. Jerry Oakes has retired and is no longer seeing patients in clinic or performing surgeries.

Full Profile


Curtis J. Rozzelle, MDCurtis J. Rozzelle, MD

Curtis J. Rozzelle grew up in Western North Carolina and attended Duke University as an undergraduate.  He then served as an artillery officer in the United States Army in Germany. He received his MD degree from the Bowman Gray School of Medicine at Wake Forest University and then completed residency in Neurosurgery at UAB School of Medicine.  Dr. Rozzelle went on to complete fellowships in Pediatric Neurosurgery at the University of Texas-Southwestern Medical Branch, in Dallas and epilepsy surgery at the University Of South Florida College Of Medicine in Tampa. Dr. Rozzelle is a member of the American Epilepsy Society, the American Society of Pediatric Neurosurgeons, and the Pediatric Section of the AANS/CNS and is active in the Council of State Neurosurgical Societies. He is board-certified by both the American Board of Neurological Surgery and the American Board of Pediatric Neurological Surgery.

Full Profile


Brandon Rocque, MDBrandon Rocque, MD

Brandon G. Rocque is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Neurosurgery. His primary focus is pediatric neurosurgery, including care for hydrocephalus, spina bifida, pediatric brain tumors, spasticity, peripheral nerve injuries, and Chiari malformation. In addition, Dr. Rocque practices general adult neurosurgery at the Birmingham VA Medical Center, with a focus on care for spinal disorders. He is certified by the American Board of Neurological Surgery, and is an active member of the AANS, CNS, the Joint Section on Pediatric Neurosurgery, and the American Society of Pediatric Neurosurgeons.

Dr. Rocque’s research focuses on improving the experience of care for children with neurosurgical conditions and their families. He received a grant from the Kaul Pediatric Research Institute for his work to improve the transition process from pediatric to adult care for individuals with spina bifida. He received a UAB CCTS KL2 award to support his research on distress and psychosocial risk among families of children with newly diagnosed brain tumors. In addition to those ongoing projects, Dr. Rocque is exploring the psychological effects of a lifetime of neurosurgical encounters for children with hydrocephalus.

Dr. Rocque was born and raised in Atlanta, GA. He attended the University of Georgia, where he was a member of the NCAA top-ten men’s swim team and graduated summa cum laude with majors in chemistry and biology. He received his medical degree from Washington University in St. Louis and went on to neurosurgery residency at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. During residency, he completed a Master’s Degree in Clinical Investigation. Dr. Rocque spent an additional year in Madison for a fellowship in Complex and Reconstructive Spinal Surgery prior to completing his training with the renowned pediatric neurosurgery fellowship at Children’s of Alabama.

Full Profile


Nurse Coordinators


Jenna Wrightson, RNJenna Wrightson, RN, BSN

Jenna Wrightson joined the Pediatric Neurosurgical service in August 2015. She has been a nurse at Children's of Alabama since January 2010 with specialized experience in inpatient pulmonary care as well as operating room experience in neurosurgery and orthopedic surgery. She received her BSN degree from the University of Alabama.


Morgan Dew, RN, BSNMorgan Dew, RN, BSN

Morgan grew up in Montgomery, Alabama and moved to Birmingham after finishing her degree at Troy University in 2014. She initially worked in the operating room at Children's of Alabama with the Neurosurgery Team. She transferred to us in August 2016, where she primarily serves as a Pediatric Nurse for Dr. Jeffrey Blount.


Nadine Bradley RN, BSNNadine Bradley RN, BSN

Nadine Bradley grew up in Beirut, Lebanon and immigrated to Alabama. She is a graduate of  Samford University School of Nursing in 1997.  She initially worked as the coordinator in the Neurosurgery Clinic.

Her talent was immediately recognized by the Neurosurgery team and we were privileged to have her join the Pediatric Neurosurgery team in 2004. She functions primarily as the Nurse Clinician for Dr. James Johnston.


Tammie Kerr RN, BSNTammie Kerr RN, BSN

Tammie Kerr is from Corner, Alabama and is a graduate of the BSN  School of Nursing at Jacksonville University in Fla. She has been a valued member of the Children's of Alabama staff for more than 20 years and came to the Pediatric Neurosurgery team in 2010 having most recently served as Director of the Operating Room at Children's Hospital and the Neuro-team preceptor and Educator in the Children's Hospital Operating Room. She functions primarily as Nurse-Clinician for Dr. Brandon Rocque.


Research Staff


Anastasia Arynchyna, MPHAnastasia Arynchyna, MPH, CCRP

Anastasia Arynchyna is the Research Manager of Pediatric Neurosurgery. Anastasia grew up in Minsk, Belarus. She has graduated with Bachelors of Science in Chemistry and Masters in Public Health in Maternal and Child Health Policy from the University of Alabama at Birmingham in 2012. She joined our team in 2011. She plays an essential part in improving and expanding the research efforts in the division. Her duties range from study design, regulatory compliance to manuscript preparation. She is also our site coordinator for the HCRN and the Park-Reeves Syringomyelia Research Consortium. Her research interests include prematurity, non-accidental trauma and spina bifida. Anastasia enjoys working and mentoring medical and graduate students interested in clinical research.

HCRN Research Coordinator
Email
anastasia.arynchyna@childrensal.org


Betsy Hopson, MSHABetsy Hopson, MSHA

Betsy Hopson is the Program Coordinator of the Spina Bifida Program at Children’s of Alabama and the University of Alabama at Birmingham. She has been instrumental in managing multi-disciplinary programs for patients with chronic multifaceted conditions. She has also been an integral part of developing and maintaining national registries designed to improve patient outcomes and standardize care through the creation of national networks. She most recently has become a leader in the Spina Bifida community for her efforts toward creating a model for positive, optimal transition.

Betsy has a Bachelor of Science in Healthcare Management from Huntingdon College and is a graduate candidate for a Master’s of Science in Healthcare Management in May 2014. She has spent the last 7 years conducting research on various topics relating to Spina Bifida care and etiology. She also serves as the President of the Spina Bifida Association of Alabama and serves on several national committees with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Spina Bifida Association. She received the Outstanding Spina Bifida Champion Award from the Spina Bifida Association as well as the SBA Partnership Collaboration Award in June 2011.


Kathrin ZimmermanKathrin Zimmerman

Kathrin Zimmerman is an MD/MSPH student at the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Medicine. She currently serves as a full-time pediatric neurosurgery Clinical Research Fellow, funded by a 12-month TL1 Pre-Doctoral Training Grant through the Center for Clinical and Translational Science (CCTS). Her research interests include hydrocephalus, spina bifida, global health, and psychosocial aspects of neurosurgical care.



Pediatric Neurosurgery Treatment Programs

Children's of Alabama FoundationThe Division of Pediatric Neurosurgery at UAB/Children’s of Alabama encompasses the full range of operative and non-operative services for children with structural abnormalities of the brain, spine and peripheral nervous system. This includes brain tumors, trauma, hydrocephalus, spina bifida, congenital malformations, birth related injuries, spasticity, epilepsy and spinal and vascular anomalies. We emphasize multidisciplinary care and a child- and family-centered care model that hinges on compassion and state-of-the-art surgical care.


Diagnoses We Treat:

Specialty Clinic Contact Information


Patient Stories

browder_jacob.jpgLike many teenage boys in the smaller towns of Alabama, Jacob Browder’s life was filled with friends, school, football -- and the rodeo. “He has always been a cowboy,” his mother, Susan, said. “He has always had a heart for rodeo.”

He started bull riding at age 13 and participated in 12 competitions, including the Youth World Finals in Texas the summer of 2013. That prestigious event draws competitors from all over the globe and only the best are invited to participate.

Jacob's Story


lightsey_kace.jpgImagine having a 7-year-old son with epilepsy – a son who for two years has been experiencing up to 40 seizures each day.

School is virtually impossible. The wood and metal desks are dangerous; the block walls in the cafeteria are dangerous. Everything around him becomes a danger when he has a seizure.

Kace's Story


lytle_oliver.jpgThe Lytle family’s experience with neurological disease began when Kelly and Rich’s youngest son, Oliver, was just four-and-a-half years old in 2011. After a sudden and unexpected seizure, an electroencephalogram (EEG) found abnormal spiking on the left side of his brain, confirming he had epilepsy. For almost two years, medication controlled it. But eventually, no medication was working; Oliver was experiencing intractable epilepsy. “It was a rough time,” Kelly said. “Oliver was having numerous breakthrough seizures, even though we had tried a lot of different kinds of medications.”

Oliver's Story


mcintyre_kaileb.jpgWhen Kaileb McIntyre was born nearly 14 weeks before his due date in April, 2012, his doctors expected that he would face many of the problems typical for premature babies. “He weighed only 2 lbs. 2 oz. and he had a lot of complications that came along with him being so small, so he had a tough time starting from when he was born,” said his mother, Khalena McIntyre.

Kaileb's Story


vick_noah.jpgFor Laura Ruth Padgett and her son, Noah Vick, life changed in an instant. One day while playing out on his condo balcony without his mother’s knowledge, Noah slipped and fell five stories.

Noah's Story


struble_robin.jpgIt was a shift gone unnoticed by everyone but Robert Struble. His then-12-year-old daughter, Robin, would stare into space and cease to speak. The episodes would end as soon as they began, each one fleeting – over in a flash.

Robin's Story


Residency Training

fellowship_resident_training.jpgAs part of the UAB Department of Neurosurgery Residency Training Program, residents interested in pediatric neurosurgery receive extensive exposure to the subspecialty. UAB Neurosurgery residents rotate through pediatrics during their third and sixth years. The pediatric neurosurgery faculty are committed to residency training and regularly mentor residents on research projects. Several UAB Neurosurgery residency graduates have gone on to successfully pursue careers in pediatric neurosurgery.






Fellowship Training

The fellowship program offered at UAB/Children’s of Alabama is one year in duration and is fully accredited by the Accreditation Council for Pediatric Neurosurgery Fellowships. As such, graduating fellows are fully qualified to sit for the American Board of Pediatric Neurosurgery Exam that enables them to attain ABPNS Board Certification in Pediatric Neurosurgery.

Our fellows are among the best trained and most distinguished graduating residents in neurosurgery training programs in North America. We are proud that all of the UAB/COA fellows have successfully completed ABPNS certification, and the vast majority have continued to pursue either exclusively or predominantly pediatric neurosurgery. Many have gone on to leading positions in pediatric neurosurgery at distinguished pediatric medical centers around the country.

During the course of the fellowship, the pediatric neurosurgery fellow is fundamentally involved in the day-to-day operations of the busy clinical service. General clinical exposure is attained in the operating room, the clinics, inpatient wards and conferences. Each fellow receives extensive operative experience in the full range of pediatric neurosurgery cases, as well as experience with the important decision making that goes on perioperatively. The fellow presents several talks at the Pediatric Section of the AANS/CNS meeting in December and produces at least 6-8 manuscripts (range 4-24 papers) for the peer-reviewed literature in pediatric neurosurgery.

Residents interested in pursuing fellowship training at UAB/COA should contact Amy Finch, divisional administrator, with a letter of interest and intent during the summer preceding their last year of residency. Interviews are coordinated and conducted in early autumn. The fellowship position is filled via the annual San Francisco match in pediatric neurosurgery that occurs in late November or early December.

Requirements for Fellowship Eligibility

  1. Successful completion of a residency program approved for certification by the American Board of Neurological Surgery (ABNS).
  2. Eligibility to obtain a medical license in the state of Alabama, USA.
  3. Successful (passing) completion of Part I of the American Board of Neurological Surgery examination.

Links
Accreditation Council for Pediatric Neurosurgery Fellowships
American Board of Pediatric Neurosurgery
American Association of Neurological Surgeons
Congress of Neurological Surgeons
ABNS Residency Program


Past Fellows and Where They Are Now



Research

epilepsy_group.jpgClinical care of pediatric patients is the primary focus of Division of Pediatric Neurosurgery. Secondary to that is improving patient care through extensive and high-quality research efforts. Our division has more than 35 active research projects in such areas as hydrocephalus, spina bifida, epilepsy, chiari, head trauma, brain tumors, craniosynostosis, and cerebral palsy.

Hydrocephalus

We are one of the founding sites of the Hydrocephalus Clinical Research Network (HCRN) and are the largest contributor since 2008. Currently, there are eight active protocols ranging from participation in the registry to a randomized clinical trial. Funding includes contributions from the Hydrocephalus Association and the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute. Research in the division has also led to the development and validation of a complement biomarker for shunt infection and meningitis. 

Chiari I Malformation

For the past 7 years, we have substantially contributed to the Park Reeves Syringomyelia Research Consortium (PRSRC), which is focused on improving surgical care of children with Chiari I malformation and Syringomyelia. Due to the diligent work of the consortium, a clustered randomized trial has been initiated and is currently enrolling surgical patients. Funding ranges from private donations to the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute.

Brain Tumors

In collaboration with the UAB Department of Pediatrics, we are currently conducting the first ever NIH-funded clinical trial of intratumoral injection of oncolytic virus for the treatment of recurrent malignant brain tumors in children. We have treated children from all over the United States and Canada, with plans to expand the trial to multiple centers in 2018.

Head Trauma

Our division has spearheaded concussion research in collaboration with the departments of Sports Medicine, Rehabilitation and Psychology. We have established a concussion patient registry and institution-wide concussion care protocol based on international best practice standards. In cooperation with Children’s of Alabama, we host annual educational concussion summits for medical staff and the public. Video analysis of helmet-to-helmet impacts in football players has led to a successful NIH R25 grant studying the biomechanics and MRI correlates of sports concussion. In addition, collaboration with the UAB School of Engineering has resulted in a novel football helmet design that was recently licensed by the innovative football helmet company VICIS (Seattle).

Spina Bifida

We are a leading site in the CDC funded Spina Bifida Patient Registry since 2008. New projects were initiated with registry as a starting point. New research protocols include transitioning from pediatric to adult care and fertility of adult spina bifida patients. Acceptance of 26 abstracts by World Congress of Spina Bifida in 2017 demonstrates our dedication and diligence to research efforts.

Cerebral Palsy

We are one of the original sites of the Cerebral Palsy Research Network (CPRN). Currently, CPRN is focused on establishing a patient registry and infection protocol.

Other areas

We have recently begun a multidisciplinary effort to study post-traumatic stress symptoms in children with chronic conditions and the importance of psychosocial services for patients with new neurosurgical diagnosis. Other ongoing clinical studies include outcomes in endoscopic craniosynostosis surgery, craniopharyngioma biology and genetics of congenital neurosurgical disease. 


Contact Research Manager

Anastasia Arynchyna, MPH

Anastasia Arynchyna, MPH



Global Surgery IconThe Children’s of Alabama Global Surgery Program seeks to expand and enhance Children’s pediatric surgical and medical expertise through collaborative, reciprocal arrangements with medical communities in targeted parts of the world. Through this global initiative, surgeons travel to partner pediatric hospitals worldwide to perform surgery, educate, and provide expertise in the creation of standardized management protocols for complex surgical diseases. Additionally, surgeons and research coordinators from those partner institutions travel to Birmingham for training fellowships to advance their knowledge and skills, and to participate in research endeavors.

africa_group.jpgThe program is newly formalized, building on the experience of surgeons from the divisions of general surgery, orthopedic surgery, plastic surgery, neurosurgery and cardiovascular surgery who have been making these overseas trips for years. Their work established the foundation of the program, but the need to coordinate the outreach within a structured initiative became increasingly apparent, both logistically and financially.

Craniofacial surgeons John Grant, M.D., and James Johnston, M.D., recently returned from a trip to the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital in Kumasi, Ghana where they worked with previous Global Surgery Fellows Solomon Yeboah, M.D., and Frank Boakye, M.D., to establish the first craniofacial program in Sub-Saharan Africa. Johnston and pediatric neurosurgeon Jerry Oakes, M.D., travel regularly to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam to work with previous Global Surgery Fellow Can Dang Do Thanh, M.D., to perform and teach complex brain tumor, craniofacial and neuroendoscopic surgery. Brandon Rocque, M.D., is working with current Global Surgery Fellow Lien Nguyen Duc, M.D., to establish a pediatric surgical epilepsy program at the National Viet Duc Hospital in Hanoi, Vietnam.

rocque_vietnam.jpgThe partner hospitals typically serve a very large regional population – 40 million in Ho Chi Minh City, for example -- and have a strong infrastructure and good facilities, but their staffs have not enjoyed the benefits of advanced training available in the United States. During the one-to-two-week trips, the Children’s surgeon will see patients in clinic alongside local physicians to determine which cases need immediate attention, which ones can wait and which will present a valuable educational experience for the local surgeon.

The reciprocal agreement with these foreign hospitals provides training opportunities to their physicians. Surgeons and residents are brought to Birmingham to observe procedures, discuss cases, and attend meetings and continuing education conferences. The usual stay is three months, during which time they are housed in apartments near the Children’s campus at the hospital’s expense.


Modern Technology Provides a Virtual Presence via VIPAR

vietnam_group.jpgA crucial component of the Children’s of Alabama global pediatric surgery outreach initiative is the use of technology by neurosurgeon James Johnston, M.D., that allows him to create a real-time presence in operating rooms on the other side of the world. Virtual Interactive Presence and Augmented Reality, or VIPAR, is an Internet-based telemedicine system that employs iPad and standard internet to stream video between Birmingham and remote sites. It was originally developed by Bart Guthrie, Professor of Neurosurgery at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and has since been commercialized for use in multiple applications by the Department of Defense, Walmart, Medtronic and other large corporations.

How does VIPAR work? Surgeons at Children’s Hospital #2 in Ho Chi Minh City use an iPad to stream real-time images of an endoscopic third ventriculostomy with choroid plexus cauterization. Johnston follows the procedure from his tablet and can advise as needed. “I can interact with surgeons in Vietnam during the actual surgery,” he said. “It’s like I’m in the OR with them. We only use it for neurosurgery now, but we hope to adapt it to be valuable for other surgeries as well, specifically laparoscopy and microsurgery.” Details of the initiative, the first of its kind in the world, were recently published in World Neurosurgery.

Involvement by other surgery teams

General pediatric surgeons Mike Chen, M.D., and his wife, Elizabeth Beierle, M.D., have made 10 trips to Vietnam since 2008, visiting children’s hospitals in Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi and Da Nang. On a recent trip, they were joined by other general pediatric surgeons, pediatric urologists, anesthesiologists and support personnel. Vietnamese medical students served as interpreters. The group participated in a weekly tumor board conference and discussed care on 17 children, consulted in the pediatric surgery conference and reviewed care on over 30 children. They also operated on 16 children with complicated congenital anomalies, tumors and complex urological issues.

Global Surgery Program Map SmallChildren’s surgeons currently work with partner hospitals in Kenya, Ghana, Vietnam and Mexico. Orthopedic surgeon Shawn Gilbert, M.D., performs surgery and trains Kenyan surgeons in complex procedures for spine and leg deformities at Kijabe CURE Hospital in Kenya. Robert J. Dabal, M.D. travels with a multidisciplinary team from Children’s to perform and teach advanced cardiovascular surgery at the Hospital de Especialidades Pediatricas in Chiapas, Mexico.




Articles

Inside Pediatric Magazine: International Outreach Initiative Spans the Globe


Contact Us

Children's of Alabama
Clinic 15
1600 7th Avenue South
Birmingham, AL 35233
Directions to McWane Building
Campus Map (pdf)
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Parking Information:
1600 7th Avenue South Parking Deck. Located directly across from the Russell Campus.
*Please remember to bring your parking ticket with you to validate at the time of your clinic visit.


If you have an appointment at the Huntsville clinic:

Huntsville
North Alabama Children’s Specialists
502 Governors Drive SW
Huntsville, AL 35801
Phone: 205-638-9653

Imaging will be done at Huntsville Women and Children’s Center
Driving Directions to Huntsville Clinic


If you are a visiting a child in the hospital:

Directions
Children’s of Alabama Benjamin Russell Hospital
1600 5th Avenue South
Birmingham, AL 35233
Directions to main hospital

Parking Information:
1600 5th Avenue South Parking Deck. Located directly across from the Children’s of Alabama Benjamin Russell Hospital.
*Please remember to bring your parking ticket with you to validate at the time of your visit.

Transportation
If you do not have a way of transportation to your child’s clinic visit, please call Kid One at 1-800-843-7143 or visit their website.


Business Address:
1600 7th Avenue South
Lowder 400
Birmingham, AL 35233
Phone: 205-638-9653
FAX: 205-638-9972

Children’s of Alabama Operator:
205-638-9100

Emails:
Epilepsy Coordinator
HCRN Site Manager
Spina Bifida Coordinator

Mailing Address:
Children's of Alabama
Pediatric Neurosurgery
1600 7th Avenue South
Birmingham, AL 35233
205-638-9653 phone
205-638-9972 fax


Children’s South
1940 Elmer J. Bissell Road
Birmingham, AL 35243

Only imaging may be done at this location. No clinic appointments will be held here.
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