Nathan’s Story

From the day Nathan Trova arrived at Franciscan Children’s, his enthusiasm, positive spirit, and great sense of humor never faltered. His entire care team was inspired by his resilience and moved by the unconditional love that his adoptive father, Michael, expressed during every step of Nathan’s journey.

Nathan is no stranger to medical challenges. Diagnosed with spastic cerebral palsy, severe Scoliosis, and lung restriction at an early age, he lost his ability to walk and breathe on his own – but he hasn’t let these conditions limit him. Now a teenager, Nathan recently underwent halo-gravity traction (HGT) surgery to help improve his spinal posture and ability to breathe.

Over a four-month period, Nathan had two surgeries at Boston Children’s Hospital. Following each surgery, he recovered at Franciscan Children’s in the inpatient Pediatric Rehabilitation program, an example of two institutions working hand-in-hand to ensure seamless transitions and the utmost quality of care.

The first major surgery helped to improve Nathan’s range of motion in his arms and legs, and placed a halo device designed to stretch and straighten his spine. Additionally, he received a tracheostomy to help him breathe. Following surgery, Nathan was transferred to Franciscan Children’s in the Brighton neighborhood of Boston, where he spent two months working with our expert rehabilitation team in order to recover and ensure the success of his initial surgery.

In December, after making great strides at Franciscan Children’s, Nathan again made the two-mile journey to Boston Children’s Hospital for his second surgery. Nathan was then ready to have his halo removed and have permanent rods placed in his back in order to maintain his straightened spine. After surgery, he returned to Franciscan Children’s where he would spend another month rebuilding his strength. Ultimately, Nathan made incredible progress correcting his spinal posture and increasing his lung capacity by 25 percent.

“The staff at Franciscan were outstanding”

During Nathan’s rehabilitation, Michael traveled a collective four-hours each day from Pittsfield, Mass., accompanied by Nathan’s adoptive brother Nick, to Franciscan Children’s to visit him. As long as they were together, Michael knew they would strengthen their bond and continue to grow as a new family.

“The staff at Franciscan were outstanding, from Steph Hopkins to Sarah Williams (OT tech) to all the CNA’s, to all the nurses and finally all the administrators who had a hand in making not only Nathan comfortable, but also my other son-Nicholas. A big thank you to all,” said Michael.

Each day, Nathan’s care team at Franciscan Children’s brought different supportive services to his recovery — from physical and occupational therapy to his favorite, music therapy. Music Therapist Jessica Triana described Nathan as a happy, gentle, and social teenager who loves to joke around with others while making music. Jessica said she will never forget seeing Nathan’s warm smile and his enthusiastic wave from his room each time they would meet for a music session.

Given Franciscan Children’s family centered environment, Nathan was often accompanied by his father and brother, who were a constant presence at the weekly community music therapy groups.

“It was lots of fun when Nathan’s dad and brother joined our sessions — they all enthusiastically played and sang along, and it was great seeing the three of them smiling, laughing, and making music together,” said Music Therapy intern Carolyn Artesani.

Nathan will spend the next phase of his recovery at home with his family in Pittsfield as he begins to settle into his routine as an everyday teenager — watching shows on the Disney Channel, laughing at episodes of “Impractical Jokers,” and riding horses with his brother.

“We worked together with Boston Children’s Hospital to ensure that Nathan transitioned well into our post-acute rehabilitation care. We are uniquely able to care for patients undergoing Halo traction for treatment of severe scoliosis, which is what makes Franciscan Children’s such a special place. It’s unbelievable to see the progress Nathan had made during his time with us,” says Dr. Elisabeth Schainker, Associate Chief Medical Officer.

As a retired Army veteran of 20 years, Michael has inspired the inner strength that Nathan and his brother Nick use to meet any challenges they may face. With the support of his family, we know Nathan will accomplish great things in the future.


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