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Tyler's Story: Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy

Tyler King is just four years old, but his determination is inspiring. For the first four years of his life, Tyler has encountered challenges that most adults would find difficult.

“Every time people say he can’t do something, he surprises us and does it anyway,” says Michael King, Tyler’s father.  “He’s just showed us that it doesn’t matter what you have, you can still accomplish anything you set your mind to.”

His strength stems from his will to conquer the difficulties faced with being diagnosed with cerebral palsy.

Cerebral palsy is a condition where muscle movement can not be controlled by the brain due to brain damage which occurs before or shortly after birth.  The term cerebral palsy (cp) is used to describe a variety neurological motor control issues that are incurable.

Eighty percent of children with cp have spastic movements and many use wheelchairs or other mobile assistance devices.  Difficulty with movement can be one of the biggest challenges associated with cp.

In the past, treatments and therapies only offered a temporary solution to spasticity.  But now, with the help of a ground-breaking procedure developed by T.S. Park, MD, at St. Louis Children’s Hospital, children with cp have a chance at a normal life. Dr. Park has designed and refined the procedure known as Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy (SDR) that permanently relieves children from spastic movements.

Chief of neurological surgery at St. Louis Children’s Hospital, Dr. Park is the only surgeon in the world who offers this treatment option.  Initially a controversial surgery, Dr. Park says he and his team “have proved the safety and efficacy” of this procedure by completing more than 2,000 surgeries. 

Patients travel from all over the country and the world to St. Louis Children’s Hospital for the permanent surgical solution.  Tyler King is yet another patient whose parents heard of the world-renowned procedure and travelled from Lovell, Kentucky to meet with Dr. Park. 

“They have bent over backwards.  There’s a lot of logistics to work out just to come from another city and we have gotten such good care here,” explains Michael King.

While not all patients are candidates for this procedure, Tyler fit the requirements and his parents anticipate he will recover much faster than expected. “We hope he will surprise us and walk even sooner than they say.”

It is not always a surprise when Tyler exceeds the expectations put in front of him, because according to his parents, it happens all the time.

Tyler had a stroke at an early age and was later diagnosed with cerebral palsy.  Before coming to St. Louis Children’s Hospital, his family tried other treatments with no relief. “You know it was just one of those things where we thought that it would be a good thing to pursue.  We had tried casting and Botox. They were more short term things.  But this was a long term thing for years down the road, for better mobility and everything else.”

Tyler’s parents want for him what any parent wants - a happy and healthy childhood.  Although he will always have challenges to face in relation to his cp, this procedure has given them promise for his future.  “The future is wide open for him.  Certainly procedures like this are going to help us to achieve that goal of making sure that he is going to be like every other 4-year-old little boy.”

 

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