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Specialist in minimally invasive spine surgery launches local practice

As Timothy Spencer pursued one career, circumstances blocked his path. Fortunately, his mental compass guided him in a new direction – toward helping others through medicine.

For years as a student in Colorado Springs, Colo., Spencer anticipated spending his working life as a chemical engineer, encouraged by his father, a pharmacist and electrical engineer.

“I went to Colorado State University to engage in engineering,” he said. He now uses his engineering experience to communicate with NASA and adult stem-cell scientists to develop the field of regenerative medicine and its applications to patients.

Early on, Spencer’s brain brimmed with knowledge gleaned from his dad’s pharmaceutical expertise.

“He was always talking about science,” Spencer said of his father. “And I retained all that information. Anatomy, physiology and medicine always interested me, and I found better opportunities to pursue medicine.”

Spencer, 44, is a neurosurgeon bringing a lengthy history in the medical field to this area. His practice is based at 14250 Beadle Lake Road, Battle Creek. Spencer also has privileges to perform surgeries at Oaklawn Hospital.

Spencer began his neurosurgical career in the U.S. Army in San Antonio, Texas, in 2002. He left the Army in 2006 as chief of neurosurgery at Brooke Army Medical Center in Texas. In Michigan, he has practiced in Grand Rapids and Saginaw. He comes to this area from Victoria, Texas.

Spencer and his wife Deanna have four children – Nathan, 19; Kendra, 17; Davis, 13; and Abby, 11. They are residing in Ceresco, and the children are attending Calhoun Christian School in Battle Creek and Northwoods University in Midland.

Spencer was born in Santa Barbara, Calif., and came to Michigan when he moved as a child with his family to Big Rapids. When he was in middle school, his family moved to Colorado Springs, Colo., where his parents still live.

Spencer played hockey through college, and his hobbies include mountain and rock climbing, spelunking, mountain biking, downhill and cross-country skiing, and hunting and fishing.

“Now I’m learning to fly an airplane,” he said.

Spencer received a bachelor’s degree in professional biology from Western State College in Colorado in 1992 and his degree in osteopathic medicine from the Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine in Missouri in 1996.

He completed a traditional internship at Metro Health Center in Erie, Penn., in 1997, and his residency in neurological surgery at Ohio University in 2002. Also in 2002, Spencer completed a fellowship in neurovascular and skull-base neurosurgery at the Central Illinois Neurosurgical Foundation in Bloomington, Ill.

“During my residency,” Spencer said, “I found that individuals who received spinal procedures got immediate and significant improvement, the patient satisfaction was high, and the surgeries were challenging and fun, so I knew I wanted to head in that direction. It’s a field that’s always changing – and for the better.”

While in the military, Spencer worked to develop minimally invasive techniques in spinal surgery. Such techniques helped soldiers who were required to be in active duty shape within six months after surgery, a situation that wasn’t possible with traditional methods of spine surgery.

“These minimally invasive spine techniques result in significant decrease in blood loss, so the patient returns to full activity quickly, with decreased pain medication and reduction of disability,” said Spencer, who continues to help to develop techniques and tools for such procedures.

Spencer also has developed expertise with regenerative medicine, using adult stem cells to heal the body’s cartilaginous or musculoskeletal regions as an alternative to surgery.

“I’m extremely excited about regenerative medicine because it’s something we couldn’t offer until recently,” he said. “It’s common sense to try and let your own body heal itself.”

Spencer, who is board certified in neurosurgery, is a member of the American College of Osteopathic Surgeons, the American Organization of Osteopathic Neurological Surgeons, the American Osteopathic Association, the Association of Military Osteopathic Physicians and Surgeons and the Society of Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery and the national honorary osteopathic fraternity Sigma Sigma Phi.

Appointments with Spencer’s office may be made by calling (269) 841-4350. Additional information may be obtained online at michiganneurospine.com.