March 07, 2023

Meet Lindley Wall, MD, MSc

Pediatric Division Chief and Pediatric Hand Specialist 

Dr. Wall is the division chief for pediatric orthopedic surgery at Washington University, and the chief of pediatric and adolescent orthopedic surgery at St. Louis Children's Hospital. She specializes in the evaluation and treatment of congenital and upper extremity abnormalities, pediatric upper extremity trauma, birth and adult brachial plexus, nerve compression syndromes and traumatic reconstruction. 

Where are you from? 

Columbia, MO.

What made you choose orthopedics as a specialty?

It was a completely organic process. I went into orthopedics, as many people do, for the opportunity to help people live their lives better and more fully. I then saw that pediatric hand allowed me to work with an incredible population; I could empower and improve their acceptance in society while improving function. Kids are incredible – they want to get better. They want to run and play with their friends and I have been given the opportunity to help them do that. 

What brought you to Washington University Orthopedics?

I came to Washington University as a medical student because of its incredible reputation and educational opportunity. I have stayed because of the people. Our faculty are supportive, driven, talented and truly great colleagues.

What aspect of your practice do you find most interesting or rewarding?

The most interesting and rewarding part would be the care of the children with congenital hand differences (conditions from birth) and also children with cerebral palsy. These two populations have different yet common challenges, which range in degree of impairment and effect on their lives and families. Being able to empower both the children and their families, either through surgery or simply consultation, is such an honor for me.

Why is working with children important to you?

Taking care of children seems to be the purest form of orthopedics. They simply want to get better and play. They bring so much life to clinic days and are so gratifying to take care of. It also can be incredibly challenging to work with kids. You have to figure out how to communicate with them on their level and gain their trust. Each kid and their family unit is different and it remains fun and inspiring every day.

Is there a patient who made a lasting impression? 

I specifically remember one of my teenage patients with hemiplegic cerebral palsy who thought that nothing could be done to help her arm. When she first came to see me, she didn’t know there were any options and she really didn’t like the way her arm looked and functioned. Not only was it hard to control, society was not always kind. After her first post-operative visit, she cried. When she saw her arm for the first time with her wrist straight and her fingers and thumb out of her palm, she couldn’t believe how it was changed. She was so thrilled and happy with the improved position and appearance. It was such a touching experience, to have been able to help her function, but also to give her confidence and change her arm in a way that she didn’t know to help her acceptance in society.

Anything new on the horizon for pediatric orthopedic care?

There is so much coming down the line, but for me I am really trying to understand how congenital hand differences and cerebral palsy impact children and their families. I believe we have developed pretty effective surgical procedures for the wide range of diagnoses. I feel that we still are just beginning to understand how these conditions and our treatments effect our patients and their families.

What is the best advice you ever received? 

My father always instilled in me that life is about working hard and taking advantages of the opportunities before you. This is supported by one of my favorite quotes by Andy Warhol: They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.

What is your favorite thing to do outside of work?

I enjoy traveling with my family. My incredibly talented husband, Frederick Stivers, has introduced me to the addictive world of fly fishing and we are fortunate to be able to incorporate that into our adventures.

If you weren't a physician, what would you like to be doing?

I would love to run a horse stable and ride competitively.

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