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Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy Offers Promise For Children With Cerebral Palsy

New-Operations-Offers-Promise-For-Children-With-Cerebral-PalsyCerebral palsy is a devastating disease that most often occurs during childbirth, but can also occur during pregnancy and the first three years of a child’s life. Due to a number of reasons, the brain does not receive adequate oxygen, and the parts of the brain, which monitor motor control, are damaged.

As the child grows, the muscles and the musculoskeletal frame do not grow properly. The child will suffer developmental problems, and feel stiffness and pain in limbs. Many children with cerebral palsy have difficulty walking and performing simple activities. The lack of oxygen to the brain can also cause other defects such as problems in seeing, hearing and talking.

There Are Three Main Types of Cerebral Palsy

  • Spastic cerebral palsy — this type of cerebral palsy causes stiffness in the limbs and prevents the child from being as agile in movements as others their age would be. Some children are unable to walk without support.
  • Athetoid cerebral palsy — this type of cerebral palsy causes children to have little control over their movements.
  • Ataxic cerebral palsy — this affects balance and sense of depth perception in children. It also causes difficulties in movement.

Cerebral Palsy unfortunately has no known cure currently, but with therapy and medical treatment, a child can live a better life. Many children require braces and walkers to help them move around. In some cases, surgery can also be used to help children walk on their own.

Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy

One such surgery that is increasingly becoming a beacon of hope for children with cerebral palsy and their parents is SDR, Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy. This type of surgery is the most researched and actively tested surgeries for patients suffering from cerebral palsy.

Selective dorsal rhizotomy involves removing or cutting of the nerve roots which are responsible for the spastic movements and disabilities that children with cerebral palsy face. This surgery has been the  most commonly used by neurosurgeons treating children with cerebral palsy since the 1980s.

The neurosurgeon first identifies and isolates the nerves that are causing the spastic movements. Each nerve root is tested with electromyography, which will lead the surgeons to know which nerve are the problematic ones. Once they have been separated, the surgeon destroys the nerves using electrical technology.

Selective dorsal rhizotomy has given hope to many children and parents living with the problems of cerebral palsy. Parenting is a difficult task, but parenting a child with cerebral palsy has more than its fair share of stresses and tensions.

With this surgery, many children have been able to take their first steps, bringing tears of joy and smiles to their parents’ faces. Due to the high cost of the surgery, much of the cost is covered through fundraising by family and friends, and through the support of local businesses.

Therapy is required after the surgery to help the child begin to walk on their own and to develop the muscles that have been restrained for so long.

Few hospitals offer the surgery, and so many families have to travel to other countries where the surgery is available. However, parents say that these sacrifices they are making are nothing compared to what the child has been going through since birth. Anything that can help their child live an easier life is worth it. Seeing their child walk on their own for the first time makes parents forget about everything; this moment is priceless for them.


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