Those of us who have a brother or sister close in age or have children that are of similar ages know how much fun siblings have playing together. Brothers and sisters swim, bike, chase each other around and get in lots of trouble together. But what if one of the partner’s in crime is sidelined?
Brothers Connor and Cayden are only 2 years apart. As a baby, Cayden was diagnosed with hypertonic cerebral palsy (CP). But Connor didn’t realize just how debilitating Cayden’s condition was until he began running around outdoors and his brother had to just sit and watch. Cayden’s cerebral palsy has left him unable to walk or clearly talk, and he has to use a wheelchair to get around. Connor longed for his younger brother to play sports with him. One day in spring, 2011, he saw an ad for a kids triathlon, which is an event consisting of running, biking and swimming. Connor had a great idea and asked his mother, Jenny, if he could do the event with Cayden. Jenny didn’t want to tell her son no, but she had no idea how the two boys could compete together. Connor was very insistent, and Jenny contacted race organizers and a triathlon coach to see how the family could make it work.
The coach helped the family get the necessary adaptive equipment and a couple of months later, Connor and Cayden competed in their first triathlon. Cayden’s favorite part of the event was the swimming, and the little boy laughed the entire 100 yards while Connor swam and pulled him on a raft. After the swim, the boys transitioned for the hilly three mile bike ride. A trailer was hitched to Connor’s bike, and the boys sped towards the final event, a half mile run. The boys crossed the finish line with Connor in his trailer, smiling from ear to ear, and Cayden with a breathless grin on his face, pumping his fists in the air.
Connor said that the finish line of the first race was his favorite moment because he knew they could do it. Connor and Cayden had a new bond and became an inseparable team. In fact, in that first race, Cayden’s trailer was initially attached to the coach’s bike, and they rode alongside Conner. Cayden kept insisting that the trailer be attached to Conner’s bike, and the coach finally relented and attached it during the race.
The team of Connor and Cayden became unstoppable. They have been competing in races and triathlons ever since the summer of 2011, and they have a connection that is beautiful and touching. Connor and Cayden are teammates, and the laughter coming from Cayden during the race is the only kind of encouragement Connor needs. Connor says that when he sees Cayden smiling, he knows his brother is happy and having a good time. The boys may finish last in some of the races, but they always finish together, as one.
Connor and Cayden are more than siblings and playmates: they are partners. The idea Conner had when seeing the triathlon ad on that spring day changed the family’s life forever. Everyone in the family pitches in for race preparation. Jenny and her husband cheer the loudest during the race, cheers that drown out the words of the physician who had told them that Cayden would be a burden and that the family should consider putting him in a home.
Connor and Cayden have taught their parents –and people all over the world – lessons about the human spirit. Doing activities together is a bonding experience for members of a family, and for any group of people. Connor found a way to deeply connect with his brother, and to bring the family together in a major activity. Connor never likes it when he and Cayden are going down the street and people use the “r” word to describe his brother. He says that Cayden may look a little different, but he has the same feelings that everyone else has.
Not only are the two brothers sharing the experience of doing intense triathlons and races, but they have a shared goal: to qualify for the international triathlon competition in Kona, Hawaii. This is the race that triathletes all over the world dream of attending. For strong people like Connor and Cayden, there is no doubt that they will be at Kona very soon.
HYPERTONIC CEREBRAL PALSY
Hypertonic cerebral palsy is another name for spastic cerebral palsy, which is the most common type of CP. Cerebral palsy is a group of disorders that affect movement, balance, posture and coordination, and it is caused by an injury to the developing brain. This means that a child can get CP up until age three, although sometimes the condition isn’t diagnosed until a child is 4 or 5 years of age, when major developmental milestones have not been met. Cerebral palsy does not affect a child’s intellectual abilities, although sometimes the injury that caused the CP also caused damage to parts of the brain that affect cognition.
Normally, muscles coordinate in pairs; when one group of muscles contract (tighten), the other group relaxes. This allows free movement. In spastic or hypertonic cerebral palsy, complications in brain-to-nerve-to-muscle communication occur and the balanced degree of muscle tension is disrupted. Muscles affected by spastic cerebral palsy become active at the same time, which effectively blocks coordinated movement. Thus, the muscles in children with spastic cerebral palsy are constantly stiff, or spastic, and movement is jerky, stemming from an abnormally high muscle tone, called hypertonia. Spastic quadriplegia involves both the arms and legs, and spastic diplegia primarily affects the lower body. The major difference between spastic diplegia and a normal walking pattern is the “scissor gait,” which is when a child’s knees appear to cross like scissors.
There are many conditions that can occur during or near the time of delivery that, if not properly managed, can cause cerebral palsy. Most often, these conditions involve oxygen deprivation in the baby. Mismanaged conditions that can deprive an unborn baby of oxygen include placental abruption, uterine rupture, umbilical cord prolapse, nuchal cord (cord wrapped around the baby’s neck), brain bleeds caused by forceps or vacuum extractors, and failure to recognize fetal distress on the fetal heart rate monitor. Improperly treated neonatal hypoglycemia or jaundice (abnormally high bilirubin), or in infection in the mother that travels to the baby at birth can also cause cerebral palsy. When a baby is showing signs of distress, it means she is being deprived of oxygen and must be delivered very quickly. Most of the time, a C-section delivery is the fastest and safest way to deliver a baby who is in distress.
REITER & WALSH: ADVOCATES FOR CHILDREN FOR OVER 25 YEARS
Reiter & Walsh ABC Law Centers is a national birth injury law firm that has been helping children for over two decades. Jesse Reiter, the president and co-founder of the firm, has been focusing solely on birth injury cases for 25 years. He is currently recognized as one of the best medical malpractice attorneys in America by U.S. News and World Report 2014, which also recognized ABC Law Centers as one of the best law firms in the nation. The attorneys at ABC Law Centers have won numerous awards for their advocacy of children and are members of the Birth Trauma Litigation Group (BTLG) and the Michigan Association for Justice (MAJ).
If your child was diagnosed with a permanent disability, such as cerebral palsy, a seizure disorder, hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE), periventricular leukomalacia (PVL), intellectual disabilities or developmental delays, the award winning attorneys at ABC Law Centers can help. We have helped children throughout the country obtain compensation for lifelong treatment, therapy and a secure future, and we give personal attention to each child and family we represent. Our nationally recognized firm has numerous multi-million dollar verdicts and settlements that attest to our success and no fees are ever paid to our firm until we win your case. Email or call Reiter & Walsh ABC Law Centers at 888-419-2229 for a free case evaluation.