New technology helping cerebral palsy patients walk

CBS News—April 14, 2008

State of the art technology is helping Alex Weinstein stay on his feet. He was born with cerebral palsy — a condition that was getting progressively worse.

"I was always falling at school and at home," he said.

"He seemed to get shorter and shorter as he was getting older because his legs were bowing more," explained Alex's mom Shelley Weinstein.

It was feared Alex might one day have to rely on a wheelchair. At Hospital for Special Surgery, Dr. David Scher knew an operation could help, but it wasn't clear exactly where on the legs and feet to operate.

The solution: motion analysis. Reflective markers are put on his body. Digital cameras follow the markers and send that information to a computer, giving doctors a 360 degree view of the body.

"[It's] as if we were looking at them from the front, from the side, and from the top down all simultaneously," explained Dr. Scher.

The computer analysis let doctors pinpoint where to operate.

Last year Alex underwent a complicated surgery. His legs and feet were rotated while his hamstrings and hip muscles were lengthened.

After a long recovery, Alex is now learning to walk with his new legs.

"They measured him and he was a little bit taller than me, and I was like, 'Oh my God, now he's taller than me!'" Shelley Weinstein said.

Alex is already starting to move faster. Doctors expect more improvement, and the best news is that his condition won't get any worse.

While motion analysis is not available everywhere, it is getting more popular. But it's not always covered by insurance.

This story ran on both CBS2 in New York and CBS5 in San Francisco.

For more information about cerebral palsy and motion analysis as a possible treatment, please read, Motion Analysis Proves to be an “Important Step” In Helping Teen With Cerebral Palsy Regain His Ability to Walk.

 

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