Canada offers specialized surgery for cerebral palsy patients

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Surgery

Doctors at Montreal’s Shriners and children’s hospital are extending their reach making people aware about specialized surgery for cerebral Palsy (CP) patients being offered in Canada.

Roughly 2.5 out of a 1000 babies are born with Cerebral Palsy in Canada. CP is caused due to abnormal brain development or a brain injury occurring during pregnancy or while giving birth. The stiffness caused by CP makes it difficult for the child to move their limbs in isolation. They require a wheelchair or braces to walk.

Dr Jean-Pierre Farmer, the chief of neurosurgery at Montreal’s Children’s hospital, is one of the doctors qualified to perform ‘Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy’ or SDR. The SDR procedure involves exposing the nerves in the spinal column and cutting those nerve fibres that cause the muscles to become taut using electrical pulses. The nerves that properly control bodily movements are left untouched and intact. This procedure can help alleviate some of the symptoms of CP especially muscle stiffness can lead to chronic pain, exhaustion and disability. If all goes well then the child can learn to walk independently.

Five year old Raquel Pilon-Guerra’s parents thought of flying to the United States for the surgery but on learning that the same surgery is offered at Montreal, they decided to check it out. After going through an assessment she was found to be a fit candidate for the surgery. Ontario Health Board agreed to cover the finances for her.

Dr Farmer reassures that the surgery went well, but she still requires several months of physiotherapy. Her mother, Patricia Guerra says that their family has already observed distinguishable changes. Raquel has developed more mobility and is now able to ride a modified bicycle without a helping hand.

Several other families in Canada are fighting with their provincial health insurances to offer them funding for the surgery to be performed. Dr Farmer is spreading the word that the surgery is available in Montreal and Vancouver.

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