Dylan's Story: Cerebral Palsy

Dylan’s mother, Jennifer, describes her son as a kindhearted child who makes friends easily.  She also calls him hardworking and strong-willed—qualities that have aided him through years of treatments and surgeries to improve his mobility after a diagnosis of cerebral palsy at 3 years old. 

There are many different types of cerebral palsy. Dylan has spastic diplegia, which means that permanent damage to part of his brain caused abnormal tightness and stiffness in his leg muscles.  This tightness (spasticity) can affect movement and growth.

Dylan’s Treatments

Dylan first came to Gillette as an infant for treatment of torticollis. When he began missing milestones in toddlerhood, he returned for evaluation by pediatric rehabilitation medicine physician Marshall Taniguchi, M.D. and began receiving injections of Botulinum toxin A (Botox) to reduce his spasticity.

When Dylan turned 6, data from Gillette’s Center for Gait and Motion Analysis determined he would be an ideal candidate for selective dorsal rhizotomy (SDR) surgery, a neurosurgery that can permanently reduce spasticity.  Following the procedure, Dylan underwent five weeks of intensive rehabilitation therapy as his legs relearned to move without their former level of tightness.

Dylan in 2007 before SDR surgery and in 2010 after SDR surgery.

Two years later, following several growth spurts, Dylan’s family noticed that his legs and feet were beginning to turn inward. After a consultation with pediatric orthopedic surgeon Michael Healy, M.D., he underwent a single event multilevel surgery (SEMLS) to realign bones in his legs and feet.

Dylan in 2010 before the SEMLS procedure and in 2013 after the SEMLS procedure.

Dylan’s Recovery and Results

Dylan’s family says the results of his SDR and SEMLS procedures exceeded their expectations. “Dylan used to crouch when he walked and trip over his feet,” recalls Jennifer. “But after surgery, all of that stopped.  He could stand straight and tall!” Findings from a post-surgery gait analysis showed that Dylan required less energy when walking, leading to improved mobility and endurance. 

Although he faces no upcoming surgeries, Dylan continues to receive regular care at Gillette.  He sees his pediatric rehabilitation medicine physician and orthopedic surgeon annually, and last year underwent robotic assisted locomotor training in Gillette’s state-of-the-art Lokomat® machine.  The therapy sessions helped retrain his body to walk heel-to-toe, rather than the toe-walking characteristic of children who have cerebral palsy.  “The Lokomat motivated Dylan to work hard,” says Jennifer. “He felt like a Transformer!”

“I firmly believe that without his surgeries at Gillette, Dylan would be in a wheelchair today.”  - Jennifer  

Life After Treatment

Today, Dylan walks without assistance and uses a scooter for longer distances. He can bike and run independently. He participates in many of the same activities as his peers, including touch football and fishing.  Despite all he’s been through, Dylan’s mother says that, thanks to Gillette, he has never been apprehensive about going to the doctor.  Most importantly, he’s become independent and confident. 

“I’m so proud of how far Dylan has come. He’s proud of himself, too!”  - Jennifer

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