A little boy from Michigan named Braden is unable to walk because he has cerebral palsy. That’s where his loving brother Hunter comes in: Hunter is going to carry Braden 40 miles in a fight for his brother’s future.
Braden experienced a lack of oxygen to his brain during birth that caused a brain injury called hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE). The HIE caused periventricular leukomalacia (PVL), which is when portions of the white matter in the brain die and leave behind fluid-filled cysts. The HIE and PVL led to Braden’s early diagnosis of cerebral palsy (CP).
Hunter knew something was very wrong as soon as Braden was born. He heard his parents speaking in whispers, using a lot of medical words. Soon after birth, the doctors told Braden’s parents that he would probably have cerebral palsy since most babies with periventricular leukomalacia are later diagnosed with CP.
Hunter immediately fell in love with his little brother. Braden began physical therapy at 3 months of age and Hunter was always by his side. Since Hunter began wrestling in middle school, Braden has been a constant fixture at the edge of the mat, supporting his big brother. Whenever Hunter finishes a match, he points to Braden, as if to say, “This one’s for you, buddy.” Braden’s face lights up whenever he watches Hunter.
Braden struggles to walk with a walker, but whenever he can, Hunter lifts him up and carries him. Braden and Hunter indeed are in tune with each other, and when the struggles of cerebral palsy affect Braden emotionally, Hunter can notice right away. He sees Braden’s entire face change when the little boy is down.
Hunter has not only devoted his life to help make Braden as happy as possible, but he works hard to educate other people about cerebral palsy so that the world can be a better place for those affected by the condition. At first, Hunter simply talked to people at his school in Temperance, Michigan, explaining to them that cerebral palsy is the most common cause of motor problems in children and that it affects each child differently. Hunter then began selling wrist bands to raise money for different areas of cerebral palsy research. Hunter knows that major breakthroughs have been made in the development of equipment and treatments for CP, but he feels that a lot more innovation needs to occur, and he certainly doesn’t think that cerebral palsy assistance devices have to look like medical equipment. Hunter wants Braden’s assistive devices to look fun and to help him run through grass and do things that other children do. There’s no reason that the devices have to stand out.
Hunter frequently carries Braden on hikes and walks during family vacations, and around the Lake Michigan coastline. Initially, Hunter was going to raise money for cerebral palsy research by carrying Brayden to Michigan’s beautiful Mackinac Island. The family decided to change the trip. On June 7th and 8th, Hunter will carry Braden from Bedford Junior High in Temperance to the University of Michigan’s Bahna Wrestling Center in Ann Arbor, a trip that is about 40 miles long. This journey will be a symbol of “the physical and mental challenges faced everyday by those affected by cerebral palsy.”
This trip is very special since wrestling is something the brother’s do together; Hunter and Braden always leave the wrestling mat hand in hand, with smiles on their faces.
Hunter summarized his goals for the research money in a piece he wrote for his Facebook page:
“The goal of this walk is to get the attention of our up and coming leaders, doctors, engineers, and entrepreneurs and show them the face of Cerebral Palsy and the need for innovative ideas in mobility aides and medical procedures. We need modern equipment that doesn’t look medical. We need walkers that can handle playground mulch, ball field gravel, sand at beaches and uneven grass at parks. We need mobility aides and classroom adaptations that work with then newest computer technology. We need handicap accessibility to truly mean accessible, accessible for all.”
Hunter mainly wants the trip to raise awareness about cerebral palsy. If people want to donate money, he hopes they will donate to the Cerebral Palsy Reseach Consortium of Michigan on U of M’s campus.
Hunter plans on studying biomechanical engineering, and he hopes the walk will inspire his friends to study engineering and science so they can help people who have disabilities such as cerebral palsy.
WHAT IS CEREBRAL PALSY AND WHAT CAUSES IT?
Cerebral palsy is a group of disorders that cause a child to struggle with movement. It can be severe, relegating a child to a wheelchair and feedings through a tube placed in the stomach, or it can be mild to moderate, affecting only one or two limbs. Cerebral palsy is different in every child.
In Braden’s case, he has a difficult time turning doorknobs and holding things. He struggles with simple tasks and has to use a wheelchair or a walker. His cerebral palsy is unpredictable. His parents don’t know if they should have narrow halls so Braden can walk through, using both walls for balance, or if the walls should be wide so his power wheelchair can make it down the hall. The family already gave up their two-story house for a one-story bungalow because Braden was getting too heavy to carry up and down the stairs.
Cerebral palsy occurs when there is damage to the developing brain, which means a child can get CP until about three years of age. Often, cerebral palsy is caused by a mismanaged event that occurs during or near the time of labor and delivery. The injury is usually due to an event that caused a lack of oxygen in the baby’s brain. Hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) is a brain injury caused by oxygen deprivation or restricted blood flow, and HIE often causes periventricular leukomalacia (PVL) and cerebral palsy.
Events that can deprive a baby of oxygen and cause hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) and cerebral palsy include the following:
- Uterine rupture
- Placental abruption
- Umbilical cord prolapse / compressed umbilical cord
- Short umbilical cord
- Umbilical cord in a true knot
- Misuse of the labor induction drugs Pitocin and Cytotec, which can cause hyperstimulation (fast and intense contractions) and a lack of oxygen in the baby’s brain
- Nuchal cord (cord wrapped around the baby’s neck)
- Brain bleeds caused by forceps or vacuum extractor use
- Failure to recognize fetal distress on the fetal heart rate monitor
- A delayed cesarean (C-section) delivery when fetal distress is evident on the heart monitor
When a baby is experiencing a non-reassuring heart rate, it means that she is in distress. Fetal distress is an indication that the baby is experiencing a lack of oxygen in her brain. When this happens, the baby must be delivered very quickly by cesarean (C-section) delivery, in most cases.
If a baby spends time in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), her breathing must be managed with extreme care. Mismanagement of a baby’s breathing can cause overventilation injuries and hypocarbia as well as hypoxic injuries caused by a lack of oxygen in the brain. Often, premature babies must spend time in the NICU, and periventricular leukomalacia (PVL) most often occurs in pre-term infants, although babies born at term can also develop PVL.
MICHIGAN LAWYERS HELPING CHILDREN WHO HAVE CEREBRAL PALSY, HYPOXIC ISCHEMIC ENCEPHALOPATHY (HIE) & PERIVENTRICULAR LEUKOMALACIA (PVL)
The award winning birth injury lawyers at Reiter & Walsh ABC Law Centers have been helping children with cerebral palsy throughout the nation for over two decades. Jesse Reiter, the firm’s co-founder and president, has been focusing on birth injury cases his entire 25+ year career, and most of Jesse’s cases involve helping children who have cerebral palsy and hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE). When Jesse and his team of attorneys take a case, they spend a lot of time getting to know the child and family they are helping so they can fully understand the child’s needs.
Reiter & Walsh ABC Law Centers is currently recognized as being one of the best medical malpractice law firms in the country by U.S. News and World Report 2014. Jesse has won numerous awards for his advocacy of children, and he is currently recognized as being one of the best medical malpractice lawyers in America by U.S. News and World Report 2014, as well as one of the 10 Best Attorneys in Michigan by Super Lawyers magazine.
Cerebral palsy, hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) and PVL are difficult areas of law to pursue due to the complex nature of the disorders and the medical records that support them. The nationally recognized lawyers at ABC Law Centers have decades of experience with cerebral palsy, HIE and PVL cases.
To find out if you have a case, contact our firm to speak with an experienced lawyer. We handle cases in Michigan, Ohio, Washington, D.C. and throughout the nation and we give personal attention to each child and family we help. We have 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 us at 888-419-2229. Our firm’s attorneys are available 24 / 7 to speak with you.
VIDEO: CEREBRAL PALSY & HYPOXIC ISCHEMIC ENCEPHALOPATHY (HIE)
Watch a video of Michigan birth injury lawyer Jesse Reiter discussing how cerebral palsy can be caused by an event during birth that causes a baby to suffer a lack of oxgyen in her brain, causing a permanent brain injury called hypoxic ischemice encephalopathy (HIE). HIE can cause periventricular leukomalacia (PVL) and cerebral palsy.
Photos of Brayden & Hunter courtesy of “The Cerebral Palsy Swagger,” https://www.facebook.com/cerebralpalsyswagger.