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Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy (SDR)

Updated on October 30, 2014

Rachel's SDR Surgery Before & After

Making a huge difference in the quality of life of someone with Cerebral palsy

The most successful surgery for those with Spastic Diplegia is called Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy (SDR).

It’s a spinal surgery where they sever specific nerves in order to remove spasticity permanently. Typically, the younger the better for this surgery before the patient learns bad walking habits and joint deformities start to happen.

There are tons of children who are now walking that couldn’t walk before the surgery. This surgery can’t reverse Cerebral palsy, but it can minimize the effects that CP has on the body as it ages.

I've seen videos of children before and after, and I have to tell you that it’s a miracle. This surgery is the only true hope that someone with Spastic Diplegia has to truly be relaxed. If left untreated we get worse and chronic pain sets in due to the muscles being tight and getting tighter with age.

Therapy, medicine, surgery is often ineffective in the overall health of someone with Cerebral palsy. Unless you were hardcore and worked out 24/7 and even then I doubt many people would see lasting results that lasted for any given time which kept muscles relaxed.

My muscles quickly revert back to being stiff in a matter of hours if not an hour for me after a medical massage, even after she massages me for 2 hours. Getting out of a hot bath helps for about half an hour at most.

I’m going to try and explain what it feels like to be tight all the time. Imagine your shoulders how tight they feel after being hunched over your computer all day. Feeling your back stiffen up after working in the yard. Now imagine that ALL over your body and even at sleep.

Fatigue often occurs along with CP because of how much energy it takes to move muscles who are confused and don’t want to do what you want them to do.

Imagine wanting to move your leg to the right and it keeps moving to the left. You try and control where you want it to go but it’s not listening to you so you concentrate harder.

We often have trouble picking up our feet so we drag them. The sheer amount of thought that goes into picking your feet up because your feet don’t understand what you want because of all of the messages getting crossed and mixed up and then they want to go right instead of left and you have to control that too. Makes me tired just writing about it.

As we age it gets worse and for many of us it’s not uncommon to be in a wheelchair full time by the age of 20.

Able's World: about a disabled boy and how he deals with life

Criteria for Adult Patients

  • Between 19 and 50 years of age
  • Diagnosis of spastic diplegia
  • History of premature birth
  • Currently ambulates independently without assistive device in all environments
  • History of delayed motor development
  • Good strength in trunk, hips and legs
  • Relatively mild fixed orthopedic deformities
  • Patients exhibit potential for functional gains after dorsal rhizotomy
  • Patients exhibit motivation to attend intensive physical therapy and perform home exercise program
  • BMI in "Healthy" range
  • No significant medical problems


Life Changing Surgery

It’s not easy, it’s not fun but with this surgery the messages calm down and everything learns to work for you instead of against you.

These children are relaxed and feel good. Some you would never know had CP and others have marked improvement but still need assistance. The important thing to note here is at least the child/adults are relaxed which means no pain and that’s worth everything.

Whatever the case this surgery is life changing. I highly recommend it to children or adults who qualify.

I would jump at the change to get this surgery if I qualified but as far as I know I do not. I have Spastic Diplegia and to think if I were a child now I’d be the perfect candidate and even have the chance to maybe walk independently.

The criteria is a little different for adults with Cerebral palsy. You must be able to walk independently in order to qualify for the procedure, I do not.

They've upped the age limit to 50 which is such wonderful news. The surgery is hard core and the therapy is daunting. You must be able to motivate yourself to the best of your ability to receive maximum benefits from this surgery.

Once the spasticity is gone only then will you be able to notice how weak you truly are. Spasticity prevents muscles from getting stronger and acts as if you truly are strong when it’s just the rigid stiffness that you notice.

If you are interested in learning more about this surgery contact St. Louis Children’s hospital or you can find them on face book and be sure to check out the YouTube videos. You will be in awe, I cry every time I see a video of a child that could not walk, walking and playing, dancing it’s truly awe inspiring especially for me as I would give anything to feel like that just once.

Hope you enjoyed this article


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