Detroit Boy, 11, One Of First To Try New Cerebral Palsy Treatment
In many ways, Andrew Kijek is a normal 11-year-old Michigan boy. He loves snowmobiling and amusement park rides. He generously shares his smile and laughter. But Andrew can’t walk or hold his head up, and sometimes he cannot control his voice.
Andrew suffers from a debilitating form of cerebral palsy. His parents provide loving care and support, but they hope that modern medicine can give Andrew the quality of life that every boy deserves. The Kijek family is optimistic about his outlook, and a big reason why is because Andrew is one of the first children in the world to participate in cord blood cell infusion to treat cerebral palsy (CP).
The Cord Blood Medical Study
Andrew is participating in a study sponsored by Georgia Regents University, where qualified children are infused with their own cord blood that was preserved during birth. Specifically, participants must be children between 2 and 12 years of age who demonstrate nonprogressive motor disability due to brain dysfunction (cerebral palsy), but do not have an apparent disorder of brain development or obstructive hydrocephalus.
During and after the series of cord blood infusions, scientists will monitor the children’s motor abilities for signs of improvement. While participating children and their families must keep realistic expectations, there is good reason to be hopeful.
Andrew’s physicians “are expecting big things,” said his mother, Maureen, in an interview with CW50 Detroit.
Cerebral Palsy’s Grip On American Children
According to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), cerebral palsy affects one in every 303 children. Cerebral palsy doesn’t describe a single medical condition, but characterizes a group of disorders that affect a person’s balance and posture due to an underlying brain injury or development issue. The most common form of CP is spastic cerebral palsy, accounting for 81 percent of all cerebral palsy cases.
There are a variety of causes of cerebral palsy, including:
- Genetic conditions
- Reduced blood flow to an infant’s brain before birth
- Lack of oxygen (hypoxia)
- Severe jaundice/high bilirubin
- Bleeding in the brain
- Traumatic brain injuries
While modern medicine continues to improve lives across the U.S., children with cerebral palsy are left with few effective treatment options. Even the cord blood study isn’t an option for many children, as only 5 percent of children have their own cord blood available. It’s expensive for parents to pay for the collection and preservation of cord blood, and it’s a decision that must be made before birth.
Hope On The Horizon
While few children with CP are able to participate in the ongoing cord blood study, doctors across the globe are working on groundbreaking cerebral palsy research. In England, a 3-year-old boy walked for the first time soon after receiving Botox injections. The injections caused his muscles to relax enough for him to take his first steps.
Other scientific cerebral palsy research involves stem cells, bone marrow transplantation, and Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy surgery. Alternative therapies shouldn’t be overlooked, as many parents believe in energy therapies, movement therapies and biological-based therapies such as amino acids, fish oil and Echinacea.
When Medical Negligence Causes Cerebral Palsy
If you believe your child’s CP may have resulted from a doctor’s negligence during pregnancy or birth, you should consult an experienced birth injury attorney. Cerebral palsy is expensive to treat and its victims often need special tools and accommodations. A birth injury lawsuit can help provide the additional financial support your child will need throughout his or her life.
McKeen & Associates, PC, is a Detroit-based law firm that represents medical malpractice victims throughout the country.