Dr. Christine Boutwell’s dedication to improving lives through neurology is deeply personal. Growing up, she witnessed the challenges her mother faced with polio and even more so after suffering a stroke. This happened when Dr Boutwell was a medical student at the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine and before many treatments were available. Although she recovered, her mother faced progressive neurological decline over the rest of her life.
During her internal medicine residency at UMKC, Dr. Boutwell found herself drawn to neurology under the mentorship of the three physicians who founded the neurology practice at Saint Luke’s Hospital in Kansas City.
She was fascinated by the new stroke reversal therapies and the impact they were having on the lives of her patients.
“At that time tPA was pretty new so we were doing things to reverse the blows. I saw big improvements in people that I hadn’t seen happen for my mom a few years ago – it was really exciting, ”said Dr Boutwell.
She joined up with neurology and did her training at another local hospital, where she was chosen as Chief Resident. Afterwards, she returned to Saint Luke’s Hospital to practice with the same mentors who helped nurture her interest in the field. She became doubly certified in vascular neurology and neurology and quickly embarked on clinical research trials.
Over the next 20 years, Dr Boutwell cared for patients particularly interested in stroke and multiple sclerosis. She has led and participated in numerous studies for cutting edge treatments, including a stroke clot recovery device and new MS drugs. She also established the Saint Luke Comprehensive Multiple Sclerosis Center.
“So much in neurology has changed over the past decades. We now have stroke reversal techniques; we have drugs that are really having an impact on the progression of multiple sclerosis disease; we have different therapies for managing Parkinson’s disease that are more effective — we’re really on the frontier of neurology. This is what makes it so exciting.
As a hobby, Dr Boutwell raises and exhibits Irish Setters. She has competed in hundreds of competitions across the country, winning several specialty “Best in Show” placements and even having a few dogs participate in the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. Even as her mother’s neurological condition worsened, going to shows every summer became a special way for her to bond with her parents. Her love for dogs is also how she met her husband through the Irish Setter Club of America where she is involved in dog health research.
Today, Dr Boutwell is Medical Co-Director of the Marion Bloch Institute of Neuroscience in Saint Luke and Head of the Department of Neurology. She was recently selected from nationwide research to steer the institute into the future.
“Being chosen for this position is my greatest professional pride. I wish my mom was there to see it. I have been involved from the very beginning of this institute and I want to continue to develop our centers of excellence and advance our program. I believe that with every ounce of my being, Saint-Luc is the best place to receive care and the best place to provide care.