From Walking Funny to Riding a Bike: Patient with Cerebral Palsy Travels from Minnesota to Cincinnati for SDR Surgery
Vincent Kandravi was 2 years old when he began having problems with his gait. At first, he was just “walking funny” with a flat foot. But over the next six months, he began tripping and having trouble going down stairs.
Vincent’s pediatrician where they live in Minnesota referred his mother, Lizzie, to a physical medicine and rehabilitation (PM&R) specialist, who did a thorough evaluation and diagnosed Vincent with spastic cerebral palsy (CP).
Lizzie and her husband, Joe, were shocked at first but quickly went “all in” on the recommended rehabilitation regimen to treat Vincent’s spasticity. This included casting to stretch his ankle to 90 degrees in preparation for an ankle-foot orthotic, then adding a knee immobilizer to achieve better ankle extension.
Vince also did occupational therapy (OT) and physical therapy (PT) for two years. However, by the spring of 2020, his leg muscles were still very tight.
“Walking was an effort for Vincent—with every step, he had to hike up his right hip and pop his foot down, and he couldn’t clear his right foot with each step,” Lizzie said.
“Looking back, I realize how exhausting it must have been for him. At 4 years old, he slept 12 hours a night and took a two-and-a-half-hour nap every day.”
Botox injections helped temporarily relax Vincent’s muscles and improve his ability to walk. But Lizzie and Joe were nervous about potential side effects, as well as the need for repeated injections once the benefit wore off after a few months. When their PM&R specialist mentioned the possibility of selective dorsal rhizotomy (SDR) surgery at Cincinnati Children’s, they were immediately intrigued.
Aimed at permanently reducing spasticity in the legs, SDR is a complex — but safe — procedure that allows patients like Vincent to improve their walking and independent mobility.
Evaluation at Surgical Spasticity Clinic
The family traveled to the Cincinnati Children’s Surgical Spasticity Clinic in July 2021 for a two-hour evaluation with a multidisciplinary team of experts, including a pediatric neurosurgeon, PM&R physician, and physical therapist.