Hunter Gandee arrived in Ann Arbor, Michigan last Sunday, carrying his smiling brother, Brayden, who has the birth injury, cerebral palsy. Hunter carried Brayden on his back for 40 miles, fighting exhaustion, heat and rain in an effort to bring attention to cerebral palsy and help raise money for cerebral palsy research.
Brayden experienced a birth injury that caused his brain to be deprived of oxygen during delivery. This lack of oxygen to his brain caused a brain injury called hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE). The HIE caused periventricular leukomalacia (PVL), which is a condition characterized by portions of white matter in the brain dying and leaving behind fluid-filled cysts. The PVL caused Brayden to be diagnosed with cerebral palsy as a baby. Cerebral palsy is a group of disorders that cause a child to struggle with movement, balance, posture and coordination. When a child has cerebral palsy, there are problems with communication between the brain, nerves and muscles, causing the child to have difficulty with muscle control. The condition can be severe, affecting both arms and both legs, or it can be mild, affecting one or two limbs.
Brayden has a moderate form of cerebral palsy. Most of the time, the 7 year-old boy uses a wheelchair for transportation. Sometimes he can move around with a walker and braces on his legs, but Brayden’s favorite mode of transportation is when Hunter carries him. Hunter has carried Brayden up the beautiful Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes in Empire and along the shores of Lake Michigan. But this trip from Temperance to Ann Arbor is one of the most meaningful.
As Hunter got older, he became increasingly aware of the lack of knowledge people have when it comes to cerebral palsy. He also learned that funds for cerebral palsy research are surprisingly lacking. In fact, there are no federal research funds devoted just to cerebral palsy. In an effort to get the community to understand cerebral palsy, Hunter started selling green wristbands and he created a movement called “Cerebral Palsy Swagger.” There are blogs and Facebook pages devoted to Brayden and issues related to cerebral palsy, and now there are even T-shirts and other items that people can buy to raise money for research. Within a short period of time, the sale of the wristbands helped Hunter raise hundreds of dollars, which he gave to the Cerebral Palsy Research Consortium of Michigan.
The 40 mile journey from Temperance to Ann Arbor drew crowds of people, with dozens joining the boys on their walk. Hunter told people that if they want to make a donation, they can make it to the University of Michigan Cerebral Palsy Research Program.
Hunter’s main goal, however, was to put a face with the term “cerebral palsy” so people will get more involved in all aspects of helping to make the world a better place for children with the condition. Hunter wants more graduates to go into fields such as biomedical engineering and basic science research. In addition to the lack of research pertaining to cerebral palsy, Hunter thinks there should be major improvements in assistive devices for children with cerebral palsy and special needs. He’d like to see the development of devices that look fun and sporty and that can help children like Brayden play and run through grass, which is what 7 year-olds like to do. When Brayden is on the playground during recess, it takes a lot of exertion for him to move with his walker across the grass and dirt, and the movement is extremely slow. Assistive devices should work better, especially outdoors, and they don’t need to look like pieces of medical equipment.
Hunter and Brayden have always worked as a team. Hunter helps Brayden with his physical therapy, and he make learning how to stand fun, joking and laughing with Brayden as he falls into wrestling mats. Hunter is the captain of the high school wrestling team, and Brayden sits at the edge of the wrestling mat each time Hunter competes. When Hunter wins, the first person he looks at is Brayden, and both boys smile and raise their hands in victory.
Finishing the 40 mile walk was perhaps the greatest victory the brothers experienced together. Both boys were in a little bit of pain during the walk, and Brayden had blisters on his legs where they rubbed against Hunter’s back. Hunter carried Brayden in his arms for some of the journey, and when the brothers arrived at the finish, Hunter lifted Brayden up so he could touch the cerebral palsy banner. The crowd cheered loudly and there weren’t many dry eyes in the crowd.
WHAT IS A BIRTH INJURY?
A birth injury is an injury, sometime caused by trauma, that a baby experiences during or near the time of delivery. Often, birth injuries cause the baby’s brain to be deprived of oxygen-rich blood, which can cause permanent brain damage. Hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE), seizure disorders, periventricular leukomalacia (PVL) and cerebral palsy are common conditions that occur when a baby suffers from a lack of oxygen to the brain, brain bleeds, and strokes.
Brain bleeds and strokes are birth injuries that often occur when a baby experiences a traumatic delivery. Forceps and vacuum extractors are delivery devices used to ease the baby out of the birth canal during a vaginal birth. Vacuum extractors, which are more commonly used, greatly increase a baby’s risk of having a brain bleed, called an intracranial hemorrhage, or a stroke. A vacuum extractor has a soft cup that is placed on the baby’s head. The physician applies gentle suction through the cup to help deliver the baby. If the cup is misplaced, too much traction is applied to the baby’s head, or other standards of care aren’t followed, there can be trauma to the baby’s head and a brain bleed or stroke can occur. Brain bleeds and strokes often cause cerebral palsy and seizures in newborns.
Oxygen deprivation is a birth injury that can be caused by many conditions. Mismanaged placental abruption, uterine rupture and umbilical cord problems (such as the cord being wrapped around the baby’s neck) are common conditions that can cause a lack of oxygen to the baby’s brain. When a baby is suffering from oxygen deprivation, she will experience distress. Distress shows up on the fetal heart rate monitor as a non-reassuring heart tracing. When this occurs, it usually means the baby must be delivered immediately so she can be removed from the oxygen-depriving conditions and be helped by the medical team. In most cases, the fastest and safest way to deliver a baby who is in distress is by an emergency C-section delivery. Permanent brain damage often results when physicians fail to quickly deliver a baby who is in distress. Indeed, it is critical to pay close attention to the fetal heart rate monitor and to timely deliver a baby who is experiencing a lack of oxygen to her brain.
Another type of birth injury is an infection that travels from the mother to the baby at birth. Improperly treated infections, such as Group B strep (GBS), chorioamnionitis and herpes simplex virus (HSV) can enter the baby’s blood stream and cause an infection called sepsis. Sepsis can cause brain damage by directly infecting the central nervous system or by causing inflammation in the brain. Sepsis can also cause the baby to go into septic shock, which can cause a severe drop in blood pressure and a lack of oxygen to the baby’s brain. Maternal infection and sepsis are very serious. Sepsis can cause seizures, meningitis, hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) and cerebral palsy.
ANN ARBOR BIRTH INJURY LAWYERS HELPING CHILDREN
When you need the help of a birth injury lawyer, it is very important to choose a lawyer and firm that focuses only on birth injury cases. Reiter & Walsh ABC Law Centers is a national birth injury law firm that has been helping children for over 25 years. Cerebral palsy lawyer Jesse Reiter, president of the firm, has been focusing solely on birth injury cases for 25 years, and most of his cases involve hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) and cerebral palsy.
Jesse 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 medical malpractice law firms in the nation. The lawyers 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) or periventricular leukomalacia (PVL), the award winning lawyers 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. Our award winning lawyers are available 24 / 7 to speak with you.
VIDEO: BIRTH INJURY ATTORNEY JESSE REITER DISCUSSES CEREBRAL PALSY
Watch a video of Michigan cerebral palsy lawyer Jesse Reiter discussing causes of cerebral palsy, which include birth injuries such as hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE).