Written by Jeff Meyer on 29 Mar 2016
For those who have cerebral palsy or have a loved one affected by it, they know how big a role this disease plays in someone’s life. Every moment of every day will involve trying to manage it. This is why the following story out of England has warmed the hearts of so many. It shows that everyday people and medical professionals alike are able to fight back against such an insurmountable challenge.
What Is Cerebral Palsy?
Cerebral palsy is actually an umbrella term that refers to a number of different disorders. The one thing they all have in common, though, is that they affect a person’s capacity to move.
The affliction is either caused during pregnancy or the birthing process. In any case, cerebral palsy is the result of damage done to the brain. It can manifest itself in problems with muscle coordination, muscle control, body movement, muscle tone, balance, posture and reflexes. Therefore, two people with cerebral palsy can experience vastly different symptoms.
People with cerebral palsy may also struggle with speech, hearing, seeing, learning, epilepsy and intellectual abilities.
The Long Term Prognosis of Cerebral Palsy
There is no cure for cerebral palsy, meaning it will be part of a person’s life from the moment they are born. In some cases, though, certain symptoms may begin to fade over time. Usually, though, the only form of treatment is to teach the child how to cope with the challenges brought on by their disease.
Fortunately, cerebral palsy isn’t life-threatening. While it will definitely play a huge role in someone’s life, it isn’t remotely fatal.
It also isn’t a progressive disease. The brain lesion that causes it is a one-time injury. The damage will not spread or further produce degeneration in the brain.
The “Magic Legs” Cure
Emma and Phil Elbourne have a son and daughter who are twins. Both of them also have cerebral palsy. So they were overjoyed to find out that the National Health Service in England had a treatment that could help them use their legs to get up and walk around.
Their daughter, Ava, underwent the surgery—known as selective dorsal rhizotomy—this past January. It involves severing nerves in the lower spine. With the help of sticks, she is already up and walking.
Unfortunately, Louie didn’t qualify for the same surgery as his sister because his condition is more severe. His mom had to give him the bad news when he asked her if he, too, could have “magic legs” just like his sister.
Although many consider selective dorsal rhizotomy to be the beginning of a miracle cure, the real miracle in this story may be what happened after a story was done about the twins.
By the time news got out about the Elbourne’s predicament, the parents had already raised £18,000. The little boy’s grandparents even put their house on the market to help with the funding.
Well, when readers found out about Louie, they stepped up to the plate and put forth another £20,000. Variety—the paper that originally did the story on the Elbournes—then covered the difference of £70,000 to hit the amount needed to get Louie his magic legs.
He will have to fly to America to get the surgery, but this means he will also undergo the five-hour operation at the very facility it was pioneered at, St. Louis Children’s Hospital.
Hopefully, this new form of surgery will be something that more and more people will be able to undergo throughout the world. While it’s still early, there’s no doubt it has helped little Ava and will be doing the same for her brother soon.