Logan Elliott, a sophomore at Jackson High School, grew 3 inches after a spinal surgery corrected a 9-degree curve in his spine.
JACKSON TWP. Like many teenage boys, Logan Elliott hit a growth spurt when he was 14 years old — shooting up at least 5 inches that summer.
It was in June during his Pipestone Ceremony with his Boy Scouts of America troop that he noticed pressure in his back.
He found himself tiring easily during the three-hour ceremony, which required hiking and standing for a lengthy duration. Logan wouldn’t divulge any other details of the Pipestone Ceremony, noting the Scouts are sworn to secrecy.
At 6 months old, Logan underwent surgery to straighten his spine. He was born with clubfoot, amniotic band syndrome in his hands and feet and a spinal disorder known as kyphosis, which causes a forward bend in the spine.
Because of his prior condition, Logan’s parents didn’t want to wait to see if the pain would resolve itself.
After visiting with doctors, he learned the vertebrae that had been fused when he was an infant had broken in half, causing his spine to curve again — likely a result of his growth spurt.
Dr. Todd Ritzman, a pediatric orthopedic surgeon at Akron Children’s Hospital, performed surgery in November 2018 to correct the curvature of Logan’s spine, which was bent at almost a 90-degree angle, he said. More than a year later, the Jackson High School sophomore is standing a little taller — having gained 3 inches from the surgery.
“Akron Children’s has done so much for him,” his mother, Heather Elliott said, adding he’s had at least a dozen other surgeries at the children’s hospital.
Elliott noticed a bump along her son’s spine in the spring of 2004 when he was about 6 months old. Her baby had surgery to correct the deformation.
When he learned to sit up on his own and began to crawl, young Logan was sporting a back brace.
Fast forward to his teen years, and the fear Elliott felt when her son had his first surgery returned.
Ritzman met Logan in July and wanted to perform the surgery as soon as possible.
“It was hard,” Elliott said, reflecting on her son’s most recent surgery. “It’s just scary to realize how severe it was. They wanted to do the surgery right there and then. They said he may not walk, and that was kind of in the back of my head.”
Despite the increasing pain in his back, Elliott requested to wait until November to have the operation. He wanted to finish out the marching season with the Purple Army where he played the trombone.
Ritzman said he performs similar surgeries up to five times a year. The difference, he added, was the severity of the curve in Logan’s spine, making his case more unique.
As Ritzman looked over the X-ray of Logan’s spine, he pointed out the harsh curve. “These pictures are really worth a thousand words,” he said.
If the deformation had been left untreated, Ritzman said, it could have led to neurological problems and — worst-case scenario — impacted Logan’s ability to walk.
“I just kept on pushing through doing all I could,” the now 16-year-old recalled. “... I was really sore and couldn’t walk much more. I had to sit down awhile. It was just a lot of pressure (in my back).”
Logan was sitting up the day after the four-hour surgery. A few days later, he was walking. He was released from the hospital within three days and returned to Jackson High after four weeks.
“I felt pretty good (after the surgery),” Logan said. “I did notice a difference.”
During surgery, Ritzman and his team removed a deformed vertebrae from Logan’s spine and corrected the alignment by placing spinal rods, screws and a titanium cage to stabilize the spine.
Ritzman utilized 3D intraoperative navigation technology to ensure safety and efficiency.
“He's very resilient and positive,” Ritzman said. “He recovered very quickly. He was really just a model patient.”
Before the surgery, Logan made a deal with Ritzman that he would take a photo of the inside of his back.
He enjoys showing the gruesome picture to anyone with the stomach to look at it. Logan used the photo to count the screws in his back and found at least a dozen.
“I wanted to see what it looks like,” he said. “... I’ve had no one faint yet.”
Six months after the surgery, all restrictions were gone — plenty of time before band camp began in July.
This past November, the band of 300 marchers traveled to Philadelphia, where they performed in the 6abc Dunkin' Thanksgiving Day Parade.
The four-day trip included a visit to the U.S. Mint facility, where Logan set off the alarm while going through security. It was the first time it had happened, he explained, adding he didn’t trigger alarms when he went through airport security a month after the surgery to travel to Florida for vacation.
The band members also traveled to New York City, where they experienced Black Friday in Times Square and saw “Phantom of the Opera” on Broadway.
The only reminder of the pain he once felt is when the temperatures dip below freezing and the rods in his back become cold, making his body feel stiff.
“We don’t like to see our kids in pain at all, so when it happens we just try to help them through it,” Heather Elliott said. “He’s a strong kid.”
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