A little girl with cerebral palsy defied doctors’ expectations when she took her first steps much earlier than expected.
Four-year-old Maya Tisdale was diagnosed with cerebral palsy shortly after she turned one year old. The Traverse City, Mich., girl underwent surgery to hopefully help improve her condition on May 9.
The procedure, called selective dorsal rhizotomy surgery, helps improve muscle spasticity by cutting nerve rootlets sending abnormal signals to the muscle.
Doctors offered no guarantees but said that children who were unable to walk prior to this surgery could often take their first steps in six months to a year.
Maya had never walked on her own. But on Sunday, just seven weeks after surgery – Maya was walking.
Her mother grabbed a camera and filmed the joyful child’s first steps.
Maya’s mother Ann Tisdale said her daughter has always been “super determined.”
“She wants to run and play with her friends – and not get left behind,” Ann told Global News. “But she never complains about it.”
Ann said Maya undergoes physical therapy five days a week and that she also does a less intense form of physical therapy at home twice a day.
“It leaves the kids really weak,” Ann said about the surgery. “They have to build up their muscles. It’s kind of like an athlete – you have to build up your muscle.”
Ann said they had heard about selective dorsal rhizotomy surgery a couple years ago and immediately started researching it as a possible treatment for Maya. But when it came down to the day of the surgery, it was frightening for both Ann and her husband.
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“For us as parents, that was really scary – and we had a lot of anxiety about it,” she said. “But we knew this would probably be her best chance of living an independent life.”
Ann said, apart from walking, the surgery has also resulted in other improvements to Maya’s quality of life.
The four-year-old is now able to sleep through the night without waking up in pain when her muscles tighten and constrict.
“She would frequently wake up in the middle of the night with pain,” Ann recalls.
Ann told Global News that even if her daughter had never gained the ability to walk independently, the surgery would still have been a success because of the impact these other changes have had on her wellbeing.