Eric Hernandez is a high school boy with cerebral palsy who loves football. Even though he uses a walker, he joined the football team, Gateway. Toward the end of the season, Hernandez told his coach, Ashour Peera, that he wanted to score a touchdown. Peera told Eric that if he wanted a touchdown, he’d have to practice hard like everyone else on the team has done to reach the 5a playoffs.
So Hernandez pushed it like he’d never pushed it before. During the last game of the season, the team created a play so that Hernandez could run the ball. Peera was determined to run the play, even if it meant losing the game.
The opposing team, Adams City High, didn’t stand in the way. In the fourth quarter, Gateway recovered an on-sides kick while leading 41-0. The team lined Hernandez up between two teammates in the backfield of a wishbone set, and handed the ball to him. With exceptional blocking by his teammates, Hernandez made it to the end zone on the first carry of his football career.
Cheerleaders cheered, and the crowd erupted. Some people in the stands had tears in their eyes, but when Hernandez ran off the field with absolutely no assistance, the tears were flowing all around, with more cheers erupting.
With a sparkle in his eyes, Hernandez said that he was afraid he was going to fumble the ball. He happily told a reporter all about the cheerleaders cheering for him.
Peera said, “It was surreal to watch him [and] how excited he was.”
“Once he got into the end zone, then it turned pretty emotional, especially when he ran off the field, unassisted,” added Peera. “What was important was being able to give this young man his dream.”
Cerebral palsy is a devastating condition that affects the brain and nervous system, causing muscle tone, movement, and motor skills problems. While there are varying degrees of cerebral palsy, it almost always drastically alters a child’s life and capabilities. Unfortunately, many cases of cerebral palsy are due to the negligence of a physician or other medical professional during labor and delivery.
While many experts think that the brain damage that causes cerebral palsy cannot be fixed (although there is ongoing research that challenges this), there are numerous surgeries, treatments and therapies that can significantly improve the symptoms of cerebral palsy. Intense physical therapy, playing sports, riding horses, attending special camps and riding bikes – including ones made especially for special needs children and adults – have all been shown to provide significant social, emotional and physical benefits for people with special needs.
In Eric Hernandez’s case, working hard and practicing with his team allowed him to reach his dream of scoring a touchdown AND running off the field without assistance, something he had never done. Indeed, social interaction and a sense of community are very important for those with special needs, and when these very special children and adults can train hard, strive for goals, and share laughter and fun moments, the benefits are innumerable.
HELP FOR FAMILIES AFFECTED BY CEREBRAL PALSY
There are many complications that can cause cerebral palsy, such as infection, kernicterus, oxygen deprivation, hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE), brain bleeds, and trauma caused by forceps and vacuum extractors. It is crucial for the physician to monitor the mother and baby very closely around the time of delivery and treat conditions that can lead to cerebral palsy. Failure to properly monitor and treat the mother and baby is negligence. Failure to follow standards of care and guidelines – and to act skillfully and quickly – also constitute negligence. If this negligence leads to cerebral palsy, it is medical malpractice.
The award winning attorneys at Reiter & Walsh ABC Law Centers have been helping families in Michigan, Ohio, Washington, D.C. and nationwide affected by cerebral palsy for over two decades. Our attorneys are recognized as national experts in the field of birth injury law and have a track record of multi-million dollar verdicts and settlements. If your child has been diagnosed with cerebral palsy, call or email Reiter & Walsh today for a free consultation. 888-419-2229