In about half the patients, Hertzler has found the surgery relaxes the whole bodys tone, making the arm muscles more pliable as well.
The surgery is followed by intensive physical and occupational therapy beginning with several weeks in the hospital to get them moving with a more normal pattern than they were before the surgery, said Dr. Laura Wilner, a doctor of physiatry who directs Ezabellas rehabilitation.
Now her father brings her to therapy four days a week.
She is able to walk without the walker and weve reduced the bracing to one [leg], Wilner said.
Before, Ezabella would walk on her tippy toes, her sense of balance was completely off and she tripped a lot, said her dad. Now she has a more fluid motion. She stands upright, Blood said.
The surgery is not a cure for cerebral palsy, but for the right selected children, it eliminates one of the major hurdles they have, which is the muscle spasticity, Wilner said.
Children with cerebral palsy are among the patients Dr. Fernando Branco treats at the Brucker Biofeedback Center at the Miami Jewish Health Systems.
What is different about this use of biofeedback, Branco said, is how were targeting muscles.
After intense evaluations to see which muscles are working, we focus on muscles that are working but could be working better, Branco said.
You cant fix nerves, obviously. What you can do is retrain whats left. You can change how you do a function with the muscles you do have, Branco said.
An electrode is put on the childs skin on top of a muscle. When the muscle contracts, the child sees a jump on the computer screen. Throughout the session with two therapists, one managing the patient and one managing the computer, the child see the muscles moving as she follows the therapists commands.
When you visually send a signal, its feeding your brain, Branco said.