PHOENIX -- An advanced form of brain surgery has been used by the Phoenix Children’s Hospital to change the lives of two young kids.
Kaitlynn Bryson, 12, and Manuel Ortiz, 10, both have dystonia, a neurological disorder that causes twisting and abnormal muscle tone.
"Can you imagine being 12 years old ... and not being able to explain or express what you feel, not being able to feed yourself, not being able to sit in a normal chair?" said Carrie Bryson, Kaitlynn’s mother.
The two families brought their children to the Phoenix Children’s Hospital, where doctors used a treatment called deep brain stimulation. For the procedure, surgeons implanted a device that sends small electrical signals to the brain to correct the abnormal impulses caused by dystonia.
"This isn’t just an interesting innovation or a cool device," said Dr. Rhatan Bhardwaj, a neurosurgeon at the hospital. "This actually transforms patients’ lives and families’ lives and doctors’ lives."
Kaitlynn’s abilities to type and speak have improved thanks to the surgery. She can even paint with a brush, where before she could not hold a pen. At a press conference, Bhardwaj presented one of her pieces.
"This shark is actually a Kaitlynn Bryson classic, postoperative, first original DBS painting," he said. "A shark of all things."
Manuel also saw dramatic improvements. He could play tennis within weeks of the operation.
The procedure provides hope for the children and their families.
"It’s nothing more than miraculous, is what I can say, and life-changing," Carrie Bryson said. "And we are so touched by every person here at Phoenix Children’s, and we want to share Kaitlynn’s story with the world because we want to help other families."