Spine Surgery Leads to Multiple Positive Outcomes for CP Patient

November 16, 2020
Luke before and after surgery

Before and After Surgery

Luke Skau is a 13-year-old New York native with cerebral palsy (CP). His mom Heidi noticed that in April of 2018 the formation of his spine had gotten really bad and next steps needed to be taken. “My normal pediatric surgeon told me only Dr. Michael Vitale at Columbia Orthopedics can do this, don’t let anyone else touch him,” said Heidi. At the time Luke needed to gain weight before surgery to reduce any chance of infection, so his surgery took place in September of 2020 after being rescheduled due to COVID-19 earlier in the year.

Luke has neuromuscular scoliosis, which is a type of scoliosis that can occur in children with CP due to the ability to control the muscles that support their spine. Dr. Vitale and his surgical team used advanced surgical tools to straighten and stabilize Luke’s spine, allowing the bones to fuse together and correct his spinal deformity. His surgery was called a Posterior Spinal Fusion and Instrumentation to the pelvis.

Immediately we noticed a difference, he could sit up in his wheelchair. He used to sit in his wheelchair for about 20 minutes and then would start crying because it hurt so bad. Now he can sit up to an hour and a half without issues. This has made a huge difference for us especially when it comes to school and travel, said mom Heidi.


Pre and post-operative x-ray images show the correction of Luke’s curve and stabilization of his spine.

Some of the other positive outcomes that the surgery with Dr. Vitale improved for Luke was that he was able to eat better, and actually started eating faster, and it has also helped with constipation issues. All of this came from the fact that his spine is now straight. “With Luke being more comfortable in a wheelchair, and these other outcomes, its life changing. Dr. Vitale is a superhero doctor, I am so grateful for him, he is like a miracle worker,” Heidi shared.