Put simply, Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy (SDR) is a procedure that will change Vivi’s life.
SDR is a procedure designed for sufferers of cerebral palsy – a neurological disorder that affects the relationship between the brain and the nervous system, inhibiting normal motor activity. Although the exact cause of cerebral palsy is not known, it has been linked to bleeding in the brain and/or abnormal brain development as an infant.
SDR is a neurosurgical procedure that reduces spasticity permanently and improves motor activity. During the operation each nerve root is divided into 3 to 5 nerve rootlets and then the surgeon stimulates each rootlet to identify the dorsal nerve rootlets that causes spasticity. The abnormal nerve rootlets are selectively cut leaving the normal rootlets in tact. By cutting some of these rootlets, it is possible to reduce the message from the muscle to better balance the messages of flexibility (from the brain) with messages of stiffness (from the muscle). Once the muscle tone becomes normal, it is easier for the child to move.
The procedure used by Dr Park in St Louis and Mr Aquilina formerly of Frenchay uses a small surgical site that often provides less pain and a faster recovery. Once the neurosurgery is complete, usually around five hours, the skin is closed with glue, no stitches are required.
Following surgery, the patient must lie flat for 3 days, then is allowed to sit up for 5 mins. The following day the patient is allowed to sit on the side of the bed and transfer to a wheelchair and from then gentle physio therapy will begin and gradually increase on a daily basis to intensive daily physio.
The operation is 50% of the story the amount of physio therapy required post surgery will be an intensive exercise programme which will continue for up to 3 years with 20 years of follow up. Vivi will still have cerebral palsy, there is no cure for this but SDR will give her the best chance of walking and staying out of a wheelchair!