Neurosurgeon is one "Tough Mudder"

2013-05-01 08:53:17 by Public Relations staff, as posted on the inside.akronchildrens.org blog.

tsulee-chen Dr. Tsulee Chen

A typical day for Dr. Tsulee Chen starts with feeding and walking her dogs at the crack of dawn, followed by running 10 miles in preparation for a Tough Mudder event, a hardcore 10- to 12-mile obstacle course designed by British Special Forces.

Then she goes to work at Akron Children's. As a pediatric neurosurgeon.

To say that Dr. Chen is interesting is an understatement. Here are some more noteworthy facts about Dr. Chen.

How her brother inspired her career in medicine.

"My brother has epilepsy, and when I was 14, I experienced him having a seizure. Since then, I've been interested in neurological disease. I'm a hands-on person, so neurosurgery was a good fit for me."

Why she loves her job.

"There are a number of neurological problems we can do little about, but that balances with the patients we can really help," she said. "For many critical cases, if we didn't intervene, the patient probably wouldn't make it. Healing and turnaround times can be so quick. One day a child is near death, and the next day, they're in the playroom ready to go home. It's so rewarding to see the whole family's quality of life improved. That's why I love my job."

How she talks with deaf patients.

As an undergraduate student at the University of Rochester in New York, Dr. Chen took a class in American Sign Language.

"I found it intuitive and interesting," she said. "So I pursued that. Interestingly, while I was a resident at Cleveland Clinic, we had a deaf patient who needed an interpreter. I walked in their room and introduced myself in sign language. Their eyes lit up and they started signing back fervently. It was nice to eliminate the middle person and reduce the language barrier."

tsulee-chen-at-tough-mudder Dr. Chen at Tough Mudder event

"Running and working out is a good release," she said. "All proceeds from Tough Mudder events go to the Wounded Warrior Project, so it's for a good cause."

In addition to the obstacle courses, Dr. Chen runs half and full marathons.

What obstacles are on Tough Mudder.

While advancing through a Tough Mudder course, participants might:


  • Swim through frigid water under ice chunks and a wood plank - then run the rest of the 10 miles in a state of hypothermia.

  • Scale 12-foot-high walls strategically placed where competitors are at their weakest.

  • Crawl through pipes into freezing mud and then up a slippery hill.

  • Leap over 4-foot-wide mud pits.


What awards she received and publications she wrote.

It's too hard to count them all. But a few of her awards include the Star Award of Excellence and Resident of the Year at Cleveland Clinic and a Health Sciences Student Fellowship from the Epilepsy Foundation of America.

Why she's glad she works at Akron Children's.

"I think Akron Children's is great," she said. "Everyone is really nice and the facilities are impressive. The hospital really takes to heart patient-and family-oriented care, which raises patient satisfaction. This is important to me. If I had a child with a neurosurgical problem, I'd want to bring them here. I'm happy with my choice to practice medicine at this wonderful facility."

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