For Todd Ritzman, MD, pediatric orthopedic surgeon at Akron Children’s Hospital, helping patients achieve outcomes that were once never thought possible is one of the most rewarding aspects of his job.
“The great part of being an orthopedic surgeon is watching a child with a broken bone or a congenital deformity enjoy childhood,” Dr. Ritzman said.
Research is the driving force for bringing groundbreaking medical advancements to the patient bedside.
Dr. Ritzman is among approximately 175 members of Akron Children’s medical staff conducting research in their fields of expertise. It plays a crucial role in our development and delivery of world-class care, giving our patients and their families the best chance for a healthy life.
Much of this research would not be possible without the generosity of our donors. Through their support, transformative research is taking place every day at our hospital, helping to improve treatment and make what are often difficult diagnoses a little easier to address.
And donor support will become more important than ever as researchers like Dr. Ritzman seek answers to some of childhood’s toughest questions.
“Many of our aspirations are limited by funds,” Dr. Ritzman said. “If we want to continue to grow our research in a significant manner, then we need to grow our infrastructure and our personnel.”
Research helps set standards in scoliosis surgical treatment
About 3% of adolescents have scoliosis ‒ a sideways curvature of the spine. While most instances are mild, some children suffer from more severe cases that worsen as they grow.
Dr. Ritzman has been working on several avenues of research in the treatment for the more severe forms of scoliosis.
One study focused on using computer modeling and biomechanical analysis for innovative scoliosis correction procedures that require spinal rods. The preliminary outcomes of this investigation are encouraging, prompting invitations to teach this method at national surgical courses and visiting professorships.
The orthopedic team’s work also has helped improve recovery outcomes after spinal surgery at Akron Children’s. Previously, children faced a lengthy stay at the hospital. But with improvements to the postoperative recovery pathway pioneered through our spinal research, the length of stay after a typical surgery has been cut in half ‒ from six days to three.
With a decreased length of stay comes a decrease in complications after surgery. This ultimately reduces the costs to insurance providers and families.
Donor support gives room to grow
For Dr. Ritzman and his team, research is a passion driven by wanting to help children – and it’s a mission in which he wants to engage donors.
While he’s received grants from organizations such as the National Institutes of Health and the State of Ohio Third Frontier, which funds innovative startups in Ohio, funding from individual donors can give him freedom to pursue different types of investigations.
“Many of our areas of research are known as orphan disorders in that they are rare or low volume,” Dr. Ritzman said. “Therefore, they are not as competitive for grant funding. As such, many of these disorders do not receive the research attention they deserve. Accordingly, this is where an individual donor has the potential to have a dramatic impact on the futures of our children.”
You can bring cutting-edge care to patients at Akron Children’s. Contact Akron Children’s Hospital Foundation at 330-543-8340 to discover how you can support research conducted at our hospital.