Stories about: Cerebral Palsy and Spasticity Center

Team Irvin: Care for cerebral palsy helps him reach his goals

teen with cerebral palsy gives a thumbs up with his doctor
Irvin and his friend Dr. Fogelman [PHOTOS: MICHAEL GODERRE/BOSTON CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL]
Boomer is a legendary thunderbird. Paws is a scruffy, fun-loving dog. Nestor is a friendly owl. But these three different characters have one thing in common: They’re all the alter-egos of Irvin Rodriguez. At just 13, Irvin is enjoying a burgeoning career as a professional mascot, representing sports teams near his home in Western Massachusetts.

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Surgery for cerebral palsy

Drs. Shore and Stone discuss cerebral palsy surgery
PHOTO ILLUSTRATION: FAWN GRACEY/BOSTON CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL

When it comes to cerebral palsy (CP) — injury to the developing brain that can affect muscle control, coordination, tone, reflex, posture and balance — parents have a lot of questions about surgical approaches. In fact, selective dorsal rhizotomy (SDR) is a hot topic among physicians and parents alike. This minimally invasive spinal operation can permanently reduce leg spasticity and encourage independent walking in properly selected children with CP. It may be a complementary option along with other therapies, such as physical therapy, systemic medications, Botox injections and orthopedic procedures.

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Keeping the bar high: Chasing adventure with cerebral palsy

Maggie has cerebral palsy — and a big smile
PHOTOS: COURTESY OF THE KING FAMILY

Maggie King is a thrill seeker: At 25, she’s been scuba diving, ridden in a hot air balloon, tackled every ride at Disney World multiple times and even flown to Los Angeles to attend the live finale for the 21st season of the TV show Survivor. “She’s all in, all the time,” says her mom, Dana.

It’s an attitude that Dana and her husband Dennis believe their daughter developed soon after birth, when an episode of anoxia, or severe oxygen deprivation, left her with spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy (CP) and other medical concerns. “At first, we were petrified,” says Dana, who was a social worker at Maggie’s birth hospital at the time. “We never expected to be on the other side of things. It was like being in a giant fog.”

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Let’s talk about sex: Guidance for parents of girls with disabilities

sex ed for kids with disabilities
Illustration: Fawn Gracey

Kayla’s* class is starting a sexual education course, but her teacher says she can skip it. Jenna’s special ed class doesn’t offer information on human sexuality. And because Abby doesn’t take gym, she misses the sexual health module taught by her school’s phys ed teacher. Although these three girls attend different schools, they have one thing in common: a diagnosis of cerebral palsy.

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