Kaleb Makes a Strong Comeback from Brain Injury and Cerebral Palsy

Born prematurely after his mother suffered an accident, Kaleb had partial brain damage and was diagnosed with cerebral palsy. But today, thanks to a complex surgery and intensive therapy, he has built up his strength and is ready to run.

Kids playing on a playground

Kaleb was born four weeks premature after his mom was in a car accident. He suffered from hypoxia (lack of oxygen) due to the effects of his mother’s placental abruption (when the placenta peels away from the uterine walls) and partial brain damage.

Kaleb’s initial prognosis was vague. "It was really bleak at first," said Gail Gowitt, Kaleb's mom. "Doctors couldn’t tell what he would be able to do."

When Kaleb was 8 months old, his parents and pediatrician started noticing developmental delays, like not reaching to feed himself. He began physical therapy at Children's at Satellite Boulevard shortly after.

However, at 18 months old, Kaleb still couldn’t walk due to spasticity (stiff or rigid muscles) in his legs. He was then diagnosed with cerebral palsy.

A surgical solution

A pediatric physiatrists with Children's Rehabilitation Associates believed Kaleb was a candidate for a surgery called selective dorsal rhizotomy (SDR). This is a neurosurgical procedure that can reduce spasticity without affecting sensation or strength.

When Kaleb's parents met the surgeon who would be doing the procedure, William Boydston, MD, Practice Director of Neurosurgery at Children’s, they were convinced it was the right step for their son. Kaleb had the procedure June 14, 2013, and was in the Inpatient Rehabilitation Program for 40 days afterward.

When hard work pays off

"The treatment he got was so great," his mother said. “But the therapy was very intensive. All day, he was doing something to build strength. The physical therapist had him walking in two weeks."

A key part of Kaleb’s therapy was helping him overcome some of the habits he’d developed as a result of his CP, such as walking with his feet turned in. Before he was discharged from inpatient rehab in July, he had already made significant progress, learning to place his legs in the correct position as he walked.

Kaleb, by the age of 5, resumed physical therapy through our Outpatient Rehabilitation Program two days after he was discharged so that he could continue building his muscle tone. "He deserves to run," Gail said. "All kids deserve that. Children's is going to give him that chance."

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