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news News Wednesday, December 2, 2020 Wednesday, December 2, 2020 10:29 AM - Wednesday, December 2, 2020 10:29 AM

Life-changing care helps patient with cerebral palsy achieve his dreams

Life-changing care helps patient with cerebral palsy achieve his dreams

When Sam was diagnosed with spastic cerebral palsy (CP) in all four extremities when he was just 16 months old, life took an unexpected, “overwhelming” turn for his family. A neurological disorder that affects the motor cortex, spastic CP causes muscle tightness and joint stiffness – meaning those with the condition struggle to control their movements. While Sam was too young to understand the impact such a diagnosis would almost certainly have on his life, his parents were not. They “mourned the loss of ‘normal,’” but they refused to let the news crush them. Instead, they “entered the world of the differently-abled child” with one goal in mind: to help Sam fully embrace the person he was made to be. And so, their journey began.

Just a few months after receiving his diagnosis, Sam’s family was referred to Shriners Hospitals for Children — Greenville, where seven fellowship-trained, board-certified pediatric orthopaedic surgeons (including David Westberry, M.D., the physician who treated Sam with two life-changing surgeries) specialize in CP orthopaedic conditions.

First, Dr. Westberry performed hip reconstruction surgery on both of Sam’s legs to improve their positions. Then, he lengthened the hamstrings behind Sam’s knees and performed a muscle transfer from the front of both knees to the back.

The result of those operations has been astounding. “Looking back at pre-surgery videos, we are in awe of how far Sam has come,” said Sam’s mom, Allison, adding, “Dr. Westberry is one of the reasons Sam is where he is today. We are blessed to have met him.”

Now a thriving, sport-loving 13-year-old boy, Sam has overcome a number of challenges to reach his goals, and he never lets CP stand in his way. This year in fact, he was able to play on his middle school football team, which – along with joining Tim Tebow’s W15H Foundation as a wish kid – has been a “dream come true.” And you can bet Sam, who Allison said is an “inspiration to all who know him,” hasn’t kept his determined spirit to himself.

Sam’s experience with the Greenville Shriners Hospital has made him “feel special, like he matters, even though he may not walk or talk like other kids,” and he wants others dealing with conditions like his to know exactly what that’s like, too. An “exceptional, brave and courageous” boy, Sam welcomes every opportunity he gets to serve alongside other kids with different abilities. Why? Because he wants everyone to see that some people are “different,” but that doesn’t mean they aren’t “normal.”