DENVER — Sometimes, it's easier to open up to an animal.
That's what Dr. Jaren Riley, a pediatric orthopedic surgeon at Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children, has found. He's started dressing up in a different costume every time he sees his 13-year-old patient, Nellie Carmona.
Nellie suffers from severe scoliosis and has already undergone four major spinal surgeries in addition to many other treatments. Around two years ago, Dr. Riley noticed that when he wore scrubs, Nellie did not want to talk to him anymore during their appointments. So, he decided to change his look by wearing a costume every time they met.
"Really, the whole point was to try to make Nellie feel comfortable, feel cared for," said Dr. Riley. "And hopefully that would help her to open up and talk a little more — just so that I knew she felt comfortable with what was happening."
In the above video, you can hear from Nellie's family and see the many characters Dr. Riley has portrayed for her.