Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy May Improve Mobility in Children With Cerebral Palsy

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doctors performing surgery in a hospital operating roomEvery child with cerebral palsy is unique. Some children may be able to function adequately with physical therapy, assistive devices, and medication. However, others may require surgery to help them reach their full potential. One common surgical procedure recommended for children with cerebral palsy is selective dorsal rhizotomy.

What Is Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy?

Cerebral palsy is a neurological condition involving damage to areas of the brain that control body movement and muscle coordination. While it is not possible to repair this brain damage surgically, a selective dorsal rhizotomy procedure can help by cutting some of the sensory nerve fibers that attach to the different muscles in the body. This allows the brain to better balance messages of flexibility and stiffness. It may also reduce the need for future orthopedic surgeries.

Selective dorsal rhizotomy is not appropriate for all children with cerebral palsy. To be considered a candidate, a child must have a diagnosis of spastic diplegia, quadriplegia, or triplegia and have no significant damage to the area of the brain that controls posture and coordination. Preoperative testing will look at the child’s current abilities with eating, dressing, playing, and engaging in other daily activities.

Surgery is typically performed between the ages of two and five, which is before major leg deformities have had time to develop. Selective dorsal rhizotomy typically requires a hospital stay of about five days. The parents or caregivers must be able to commit to physical therapy four to five times per week for the first six months post-surgery and two to four times per week for the following year.

The primary benefit of this surgery is that it reduces spasticity and aids in movement. A child who was walking with a walker or crutches may be able to progress to independent walking. A child who was able to sit and pull to stand may be able to walk with a walker or crutches after surgery.

Understanding Your Right to Compensation

Cerebral palsy is a complex condition requiring a lifetime of care. If a doctor’s mistake during labor or delivery caused your child’s cerebral palsy, you could have a valid medical malpractice claim. This legal action can provide the compensation necessary to ensure your child reaches his or her full potential. Contact us today to discuss your legal options in great detail.