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Ex-Paratrooper Back in Action After Spine Surgery

Posted on August 12, 2016
Spine Surgery Patient John Parris
John Parris is enjoying all the things that used to be challenging, like preparing his garden for summer without pain thanks to his minimally invasive spine surgery at TN Brain and Spine.

He jumped out of airplanes 102 times during his 25-year Army career and spent the Vietnam War in Korea getting shot at by snipers along the Imjin River. But when 65-year-old John Parris of Knoxville had to undergo minimally invasive spine surgery, he was admittedly nervous.

But as he suffered back and leg pain and repeated falls, caused by nerve compression and spondylolisthesis, which is the forward displacement of vertebra, Parris put his trust in neurosurgeon Barrett Brown, MD at TN Brain and Spine.

Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery 

Parris underwent a minimally invasive procedure known as transformational lumbar interbody fusion (TLIF) of his third and fourth lumbar vertebrae

Using small incisions and state-of-the-art intraoperative image guidance, Dr. Brown attached surgical hardware such as pedicle screws and rods to the back of Parris’ vertebra. An interbody spacer called a fusion cage was inserted into the disc space from one side of the spine to help promote fusion.


“I was up walking within 24 hours, and once I got my legs under me it wasn’t long before I was doing the therapy, and I’ve done really well,” said Parris. “Coming up this August, it’ll be a year that I have been pain-free.”

After just a few days in the hospital and three weeks on a walker or cane, Parris – with his back made straighter by the rods – was free of pain, walking in physical therapy and well on his way to a full recovery.

Read the full story of how Dr. Barrett Brown treated John Parris with minimally invasive surgery.

Schedule an Appointment

For more information about the services offered at TN Brain and Spine or to make an appointment, call (865) 331-2835.

About TN Brain and Spine

Barrett Brown, MD and Joel Norman, MD at TN Brain and Spine have performed over 3,000 surgeries for the treatment of surgical disorders of the brain, spine and peripheral nerves.

Common disorders we treat include:

  • Congenital anomalies
  • Trauma
  • Tumors
  • Vascular disorders
  • Infections of the brain or spine
  • Degenerative diseases of the spine
  • Stroke

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