Member since: 2001.
Home: Lenexa, Kan.
Occupation: Pediatric rehabilitation psychologist, Children's Mercy Hospital, Kansas City
Frontline care: Korth is one of the health professionals parents encounter when faced with their worst nightmare: serious injury to their child. Often while their child is still in the ICU, she's the one explaining to parents the extent of their child's brain or spinal cord injury. She also outlines the type of deficits and recovery the parents can expect. While being realistic, Korth is careful never to “put limits on children's recovery — they will always exceed your expectations,” she says.
Watching children improve: Throughout children's recovery, Korth tracks their progress through neuropsychological screenings. She then brings her results to the rest of the medical team, including speech pathologists and physical therapists, and helps devise or tweak the patients' rehabilitation plans. Korth's involvement continues even after children leave the hospital and return to school — she'll often consult with educators to keep tabs on children's academic progress. “The best days are when kids come back and visit me and bring their report cards — a child you met in a coma is now doing well in school,” she says.
Vigilant parenting: Daily exposure to worst-case scenarios has made Korth a cautious parent to her three children, ages 7, 9 and 11. They know that seatbelts are never optional, and that under no circumstances may they ride an all-terrain vehicle. Her children are, however, allowed to ride bikes and skateboards — if they wear helmets. “It's difficult, sometimes, finding balance — letting kids live their lives and have fun, while hopefully preventing them from being catastrophically injured.”
An Italian who can't cook: Though her family immigrated from Italy just two generations ago with plenty of recipes, Korth leaves most of the cooking to her husband. “Many of my older female relatives have tried to teach me to make spaghetti sauce, and every single one of them has told me on the sly, 'You just put a little sugar in it, but don't tell anyone,'” says Korth.
Secret skill: One thing that she is good at is whistling loudly. A native New Yorker, Korth developed the talent while attending baseball games at Shea Stadium. Korth is asked to whistle at large gatherings to quiet the crowd for speeches. But most often, she uses it to wrangle her children. “That whistle has served me well,” she says. “It's deafening.”
A lifelong passion: Korth says she knew at age 13 she wanted to be a psychologist and work with children, but it wasn't until her internship at the University of Virginia School of Medicine that she realized she wanted to get into neuropsychology. Although the smells sometimes made her queasy, Korth watched as medical residents autopsied brains, and she became fascinated with brain anatomy and function. “I instantly fell in love with neuropsych and have been doing it ever since,” she says.
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