Cerebral Palsy procedure is helping kids walk



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Posted on August 14, 2012 at 12:00 PM

Updated Thursday, Aug 16 at 10:44 AM

Four year old Logan Ellingsworth is a fighter. But cerebral palsy made walking more and more difficult.

His parents knew he might soon be wheelchair bound, when they learned of a procedure at Seattle Children's. It's called selective dorsal rhizotomy.

Committing to the surgery was hard. Logan would get worse before he could get better.

"In this surgery we make a small incision. We take off the back of one of the vertebra, and that allows us to gain access to the spinal canal," explained Seattle Children's Neurosurgeon Dr. Samuel Browd.

The nerve roots that caused Logan's spasticity were permanently severed. He spent three weeks at Seattle Children's, followed by intense physical therapy at home.

"That can last for six months to a year. Basically what they're doing is retraining the system, and the results are unbelievable," said Dr. Browd.

"Logan, Logan, Logan. Wow! Little man you look fantastic," exclaimed Dr. Susan Apkon, Director of Rehabilitation Medicine at Seattle Children's.

She led Logan's rehab team. She was amazed after just four months, at Logan's progress.

"His steps are much longer as he's walking. He's flatter on his feet," said Dr. Apkon.

Logan must continue daily physical therapy. He still uses braces, and a walker. But he's steadily gaining strength as he walks without them.

The procedure is not risk free. And the rehab is a huge commitment said his mother. She had to overcome her own fear.

"You want them to go the longest distance they can with whatever it takes," said Brenda Ellingsworth.

"Why don't you not use the walker. Just come on back," Dr. Browd coaxed Logan.

It's just amazing to see him come in and walk down the hall," he said. "You can't ask for a better day than that."