You may remember our posts on Guelph resident, Bentley Mitchell, or you may already be a follower of his story. Just over one year ago, he was in St. Louis undergoing life-changing Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy (SDR) surgery. It’s a procedure that treats muscle spasticity (painful cramps and spasms) and most commonly affects those with Cerebral Palsy, like Bentley.
Every day since his surgery, five-year-old Bentley has been progressing and excelling! He has been following a routine of physical therapy since the surgery that builds his strength, stamina and the skills he has learned. A lot of focus has been on walking in a realistic environment with distractions, being unbalanced and resisting the urge to over-correct himself. He has started to master walking in straight lines (100+ steps in a row) and is now working on perfecting some transitions like turning, bending, changing direction and stopping without the aid of a piece of furniture. When he reaches 100 steps, he plans to have a party with Elsa and Olaf (from the movie Frozen)!
The benefits of the SDR surgery don’t stop at walking! Sleeping is vastly improved since leg pain from muscle cramps, spasms and tightness would wake him frequently and require massaging by Mom or Dad. His parents say that if this were the only improvement from the surgery, it would have made it all worth it. Another benefit is independence with basic day-to-day tasks, such as dressing and bathroom use. Athough Bentley’s canes and walker are still used for speed, some play activities and distance (to avoid fatigue), his leg braces and supports are gone. He is also able to ride a bike, skate, and participate in Karate!
We tend to forget just how complex walking really is, and it’s amazing how much Bentley has accomplished in one year. Based on his progress and the doctor’s predictions, he will, with continued therapy, be walking independently without support in all environments (at home, on the playground, sandy beaches). He’ll be able to run, jump and play the sports he loves so much. This is the goal Bentley, his parents and family continue to work towards. He has a very bright future!