Health

Botox Injections Allow 3-Year-Old Boy with Cerebral Palsy to Walk for First Time

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Aiden Farrell, a 3-year-old boy with cerebral palsy, was able to start walking for the first time in his life thanks to Botox injections in his legs.

Botox is normally used to treat wrinkles, but because it unblocks Aiden's nerve impulses that restrict his movement, it is also able to help him walk.

He was born with the disease but it became worse over time, leading him unable to straighten his legs without excruciating pain.

Sara and Gevun Farrell, Aiden's parents, were fed up with seeing their toddler in pain and so took to the Internet to find treatments.

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"Seeing Aiden take his first steps is something I never dreamed would be possible," Sara, 31, said. "I noticed as soon as we got home after having the treatment the difference was amazing."

Though he wasn't walking right away, she noticed he was sitting differently, with his legs stretched out instead of bent up.

"It may sound unusual but if it helps my little boy walk I do not care," she said.

By training his muscles to walk, they are building up strength and allowing him to move more easily.

"It is about trying to build up strength in his length and walk more. He is using muscles he has never used before. The difference in mobility is unbelievable," she said."

For Aiden, it is the first relief of his life after he suffered from health problems from the day he was born.

He was born prematurely at 29 weeks, weighing just 3 pounds. He had to be kept on a ventilator. 

Once he got through that ordeal, his family thought they were in the clear. But when he struggled to sit up at eight months old, they feared something was wrong.

"When I was told Aiden had cerebral palsy we grieved every day, especially because we have other children and could see them running around the house It was difficult because we wanted Aiden to do the same things they could do," Sara said.

"Over time his legs tightened up so much he was unable to straighten them. He would cry with any physiotherapy exercises he was given to strengthen his legs. I felt useless because all I could do was massage them to make his pain go away."

Then they discovered that other parents had used Botox treatments to help their children with cerebral palsy. They had Aiden placed on an 18-month waiting list and he was finally given 12 injections in December. 

Doctors injected Botox into his calves, hamstrings and groin, and told the family that it only had a 50 percent chance of being successful.

"I was really nervous taking him to the hospital that morning. When it's your own child you really want it to work but of course you have your doubts about what will happen if it doesn't. He was put to sleep and we were originally told he would be down for four minutes but it was an hour by the time we got called to see him," Sara said.

But she knew everything was all right when he started asking for food.

"He asked for a sausage roll - which made everyone laugh."

And it only got better from there. Soon, Aiden was able to stand, walk with his legs straighter on his walking frame, stand with his legs apart and take a few steps by himself.

Now, the family hopes that they can improve his condition even more through a surgery that could permanently cure it. Called "selective dorsal rhizotomy surgery," it is five hours long and would cut the nerves in his lower back.

Sources: NY Daily News, The Sun