By Living Magazine
Jean Louis Benae, MD, might be a neurosurgeon, but his practice isn’t just about surgery. In fact, he would rather be one of the first doctors you see if you are experiencing neck or back pain – not the last. Why? If he sees you early on, he can work with you to provide the best “road map” to recovery, preferably without surgery. Yes, without surgery! “The last think you want to do is operate on someone who doesn’t really need surgery,” Dr. Benae said. “We take the time to look at all the possibilities.”
At Plano Surgical Hospital, Dr. Benae works tirelessly to get to the bottom of why his patients are in pain. “Pain can come from many different sources,” he explained. “It is more important to know why it is happening.” Digging deap to uncover the source of the pain is one of many reasons Dr. Benae is passionate about what he does. To him, understanding the root cause is key to developing the best plan of action. He has often had patients tell him how grateful they are that he took the time and went the extra mile to find answers for them.
Education is Key
Being in pain can be scary. Not knowing why or what’s going to happen can be even scarier. Dr. Benae strives to minimize fear by educating his patients all along the way. He takes whatever time is needed to help them understand why they are in pain, what various treatment modalities (chiropractic care, pain management, physical therapy, etc.) are available to them, and why one might be prescribed over another.
By educating his patients, listening to them and also working closely with the other care providers treating his patients, Dr. Benae is able to be very through in his care. By getting involved early and overseeing his patients’ treatments every step of the way, he can determine which ones are the most beneficial.
Ultimately, if a patient’s pathology requires a more aggressive treatment, then minimally invasive options will be offered. “The care is much more comprehensive this way,” he said. “You want someone who can put it all together.”
From Africa To Texas
Dr. Benae moved to Paris, France from his native Cameroon, Africa at age 13. Early on, he was fascinated with the brain, because, as he said, he “learned the brain plays an integral role in the human experience.” In Cameroon, the field of neurosurgery was non-existent at that time. In Paris, everything he was reading about neuroscience was coming from English speaking countries. So, at 20, he decided to “go to the source,” moved to California and enrolled at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) to pursue a degree in Physiological Sciences. He then obtained a Doctorate in Medicine at the David Geffen UCLA School of Medicine. After a fellowship in neurotrauma research at UCLA, a residence in Wisconsin and working as a neurosurgeon in Mississippi, Dr. Benae realized he wanted to branch out on his own and start his own practice. He looked to Texas, where he already had friends and family, to make his move.
Dr. Benae’s practice, North Texas Brain & Spine Specialists, opened in June 2014 just down the street from Plano Surgical Hospital. And he couldn’t be any happier. “I love it. It’s really, really good,” Dr. Benae said of Texas. “It’s a little bit difficult for some of my patients in Mississippi who still want to come to me for treatment though,” he said, half jokingly.
Advances In Neurosurgery
Neurosurgery, which involves surgery performed on the nervous system including the brain and spine, has come a long way over the years.
Major “open back” surgeries have become a thing of the past. “The field has pushed the envelope to maximize minimally invasive surgery,” said Dr. Benae, who utilizes cutting-edge techniques and procedures and has extensive training in complex spine pathology. The staff at Plano Surgical Hospital see Dr. Benae’s patients making amazing recoveries and leaving with smiles on their faces. “He takes on very difficult cases and makes miracles happen, said a member of the nursing staff. His skills are impressive and I personally would send my family members to him.” Dr. Benae, who is a member of various national and international neurosurgical societies including the Congress of Neurological Surgeons, American Association of Neurological Surgeons, North American Spine Society and others, said he is seeing a trend – one that is is trying to foster – of patients who prefer a more comprehensive approach to treating neck and back pain.
“They want a neurosurgeon to find the problem, provide various treatment modalities and closely monitor which one works, which one doesn’t, etc.,” Dr. Benae said. “This is going to be the next big level in neurosurgery.”
Why He Does What He Does
Dr. Benae, who considers himself more of a healer than a surgeon, thinks of his patients as family. He said he can’t sleep well at night if someone he attended to is not well or not where he/she needs to be. He thrives on making significant changes in patients so their pain is either gone or much more manageable. One of the greatest compliments he ever received came from a 69-year old patient; she asked if she could adopt him. She had undergone surgery from another doctor and was having trouble recovering, to the point that she could no longer hold her head up. Dr. Benae helped her and now she tells everyone she can about him.
Dr. Benae, who is an excellent brain surgeon in addition to working with the issues of the spine, does what he does because he has the resources, education and tools to help others. One of the reasons he chose neurosurgery was to provide access to this highly specialized field of medicine to underserved areas, such as some of the developing nations. He often coordinates medical missions to offer help in these countries and has even sent much-needed medical equipment back to his native Cameroon.
Dr. Benae’s last thoughts? “If you are suffering from neck or back pain, don’t wait to feel if you are ready for surgery or not,” he said. “Come see me so we can find out what’s going on and can lay out a plan. You might not even need surgery.”
- Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery
- Cervical Decompression & Fusion
- Lumbar Decompression & Fusion
- Spinal Stabilization
- Thoracic Decompression & Fusion
- Chiari Decompression
- Brain & Spine Tumor Resection
Testimonial: “You Saved My Life”:
You operated on me a year ago today in Hattiesburg, MS. You saved my life that night and I will never forget that.
I felt compelled to find you after you moved and thank you for everything you have done for my family and me. I had given birth to our first son 2 weeks before my brain surgery and was a ball of emotions. But you always brought so much peace and positivity every time you stepped into my room. I can still see your bright smile like it was yesterday!
You are absolutely amazing at what you do and your hard work and long hours away from you family do not go unappreciated. I thank God He put you in my life that day and I now get to watch my son grow because of you. I can never thank you enough, you truly saved my life!
May God bless you to continue to work miracles. – Ashley L.
“Dr. Jean Louis Benea is a double board certified neurosurgeon and is currently accepting new patients with back pain, neck pain, spinal disorders, brain disorders or peripheral nerve pain. To schedule an appointment, please contact his office in McKinney at 972-704-1535.”