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Johns Hopkins Health - Standing Tall

Summer 2014
Issue No. 25

Standing Tall

Date: July 8, 2014

Once hunched over and miserable, David Beach got his back in line at Johns Hopkins

complex spine surgery

When I arrived in Dan Sciubba’s office in October 2012, I couldn’t even look him in the eye.

I had been a runner, a cyclist, an active father of four. But in 2004, I was riding a 550-pound all-terrain vehicle that rolled over and ended up on top of me, crushing two of my vertebrae. At the time, I already had steel rods in my back, the results of another accident I’d had when I was in my 20s.

Now this.

To get relief, I had back surgery at a major medical center near my home. It didn’t work. I was now in a sorry state. I was in constant pain; I could barely walk, much less run or bike; and I was hunched over like a frail, old man.

My life as I knew it was pretty much over. Or so I thought.

I found Dr. Sciubba online, and drove two and a half hours to meet with him in his office at Johns Hopkins. After looking at my X-rays and examining me, he explained exactly what he could do. I’m a machinist by training, and the way he walked me through the process, step by step and in great detail, gave me a lot of confidence. I decided to have the surgery with him.

It took two days, but essentially, Dr. Sciubba took out all the old hardware that lined my spine and put in a whole new set. He also rebroke my backbone and took out a piece to straighten me out. I’m now fused from my upper lumbar to the pelvis, but you can see what he did on the X-ray. It’s all beautifully sculpted.

Dr. Sciubba met with me twice for an hour before surgery and checked in with me every day for nine days after. He always gives me his full attention, and I appreciate that.

Most important, he gave me my life back. In the year since the surgery, I purchased a new bike and have logged 1,000 miles. I’m even back to running. Best of all, I can stand up straight again.

After the surgery, my wife came over and hugged me, and she realized something was different. Turned out, I’d been so kinked and bent over for so long that I had actually shrunk. The surgery allowed me to grow an inch and a half—back to my normal height of 6 feet 1 inch.

Now, when I return for checkups, I can look Dr. Sciubba straight in the eye, and say, “Thanks!”

Setting Things Straight
“People can handle a lot, and do a lot of things with back pain,” says Johns Hopkins neurosurgeon Dan Sciubba, M.D. “But in terms of quality of life, there is nothing worse than kyphosis—the condition in which you are bent forward and in a fixed position.”

Sciubba was able to essentially “straighten” his patient David Beach through a complex, multiphase procedure that involved first removing Beach’s existing implants and then a wedge of bone from his back that corresponded to the degree of the kyphosis.

“You basically take some bone out, then close up the spine and lock it in that straightened-out position,” Sciubba says.

And that’s why Beach can stand straight again.

To watch a video of David Beach telling his story, visit For more information, appointments or consultations, call 877-546-1872.

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