Sebastian is a 7-year-old cerebral palsy patient who has made some extraordinary strides in his treatment. He was the first patient to have the selective dorsal rhizotomy (SDR) procedure performed in-house at our Houston Shriners hospital. SDR is a surgical procedure performed on the lower spinal cord. The nerves are separated then identified via an electrical stimulation. Following identification, certain sensory nerve fibers in the spinal cord that lead to too much muscle tone, which is a condition of cerebral palsy, and spasticity are then cut.
Selective dorsal rhizotomy has been shown to:
For Sebastian, the principle goals for this procedure were to reduce severe spasticity and with 6–8 weeks of rehabilitation, have him perform some of the self-care activities that his mother had to completely do for him. Within two weeks of his inpatient rehabilitation treatment, his therapist and doctor saw that Sebastian had the motivation and ability to go much farther. After eight weeks of intensive rehabilitation, Sebastian went home walking confidently in a walker with the help of specialized leg braces and he is completely self-sufficient in his self-care activities.
He had never stood independently before and his mother had never dreamed he would be able to walk. Through some persistent research, the hospital care coordination department also found a reputable physical therapy program in Sebastian’s hometown in Mexico that is going to be able to further his progress. He will return to the hospital regularly to continue to be treated.
Besides his very positive treatment outcomes, Sebastian has quite the personality and made a huge impression on all the hospital staff. He never complained during his therapy sessions no matter how challenging they were. He always hugged each team he was working with as he left and his parting catch phrase was “Hasta la vista, baby.” He also developed a big crush on his physical therapy aide and translator, Alex, even refusing to kiss his mom sometimes so Alex wouldn’t get jealous. He asked for a posed picture with Alex so our hospital photographer arranged a photo shoot for him with Alex. Sebastian showed up in his best clothes and his hair slicked back looking happier than he ever had. The pictures were taken and printed for him to keep and he slept with his Alex picture in his hand every night after.
Sebastian’s imprint on our hearts are just as permanent as the strides he made during these last two and half months of treatment.