Katy 8-year-old with cerebral palsy now able to walk, run after major surgery

KATY, Texas – Cesar Amaya from Katy is six months post-surgery for an operation to improve his Cerebral Palsy (CP).

CP is a group of disorders that affect a person’s ability to move and maintain balance and posture.

Amaya was diagnosed when he was 18-months-old. He’s now 8 years old.

“It was a hard time but we never lost our faith in God that we could find an answer for Cesar,” Cesar’s dad said. “And we got it through that surgery.”

His surgery, called a Selective dorsal rhizotomy, was done on the spine. Pediatric neurosurgeon with UT Health Houston and Memorial Hermann Dr. Manish Shah removed a portion of Cesar’s sensory roots.

If the surgeon took too much, Cesar would lose sensation in his legs. If he didn’t take enough, the surgery would be worthless.

Shah said they carefully test the roots during the operation to ensure they’re taking the right ones.

They say patients who will benefit the most are those with strong trunk control, who’ve had a strong history of physical therapy.

“Those children can do well but they require the coordination of a team of physicians and therapists to work together, and we’ve had some spectacular outcomes,” Shah said.

The ideal age is normally about 4-years-old before CP does permanent damage to a patient’s joints and at a time when the patient can best cooperate through therapy.

“We’ve seen a 2-year-old, you’ve seen a 3-year-old, these guys are independent actors. They’re not exactly children who are going to take direction like ‘You’re going to go to therapy three times a week after we do the surgery,’” Shah explained. “We found if we wait until four, then they’re much more likely to do this and their improvement is better.”

Shah said the operation has been done on adult patients but typically doesn’t get as good results as children.

They are highly selective though since they have a good understanding of which patients would benefit and which won’t.

Even though Cesar had the operation at eight, he’s successfully walking and even plays on a local soccer team.

The expectation is that with therapy, he’ll continue to improve control and speed.

“As a family, we are so happy [and] so thankful for Dr. Manish Shah and all of his team,” Cesar’s dad said.

Shah said the goal is to do therapy three times a week however, the Amaya’s are disappointed their insurance will only cover twice-weekly visits.