Cerebral palsy is one of the most debilitating and unfortunately common movement disorders in children, and to live with it is to basically be fighting your own body. Those who suffer from the disorder have varying symptoms, but among the most common are poor coordination, weak muscles, and tremors, all of which make it incredibly difficult to move of your own accord.
Researchers believe they've identified several root causes of the disorder, which range from infections incurred while in the womb, to head injury and trauma during the first few years of life. The treatments for it are just as varied, with things like wearing braces on afflicted areas and taking medication being the most common, but severe cases often tend to require surgery and other invasive procedures to manage. This condition is a ton for any grown adult to go through, let alone a child, and as a result it can lead to kids feeling like it's preventing them from essentially, well, being a kid.
However, recent developments in the treatment of the disorder are paving the way for kids who suffer from cerebral palsy to lead completely normal lives, and the latest, greatest example comes from a little girl who was able to take her first unassisted steps to meet Santa Claus...
Esme Hodge was born 11 weeks early and weighed only three pounds when she came into the world, which posed a pretty significant concern for her parents, Matthew and Angela Hodge of Thornbury, Bristol, England. Even after spending several weeks in an incubator before being allowed to go home, her parents noticed that Esme wasn't developing at the same rate as other children.
In fact, Esme wasn't able to use her left side at all, and even after her cerebral palsy diagnosis and treatment, she was unable to move anywhere without a wheelchair. Her parents were desperate to find a solution, which is how her mother discovered the existence of selective dorsal rhizotomy (SDR) operation, an experimental operation that involves the selective trimming of synapses in the muscles to lessen the effect of cerebral palsy.
The operation required the family to fly to the United States and spend a whopping $100,000, but it turned out to be a complete success! After a short amount of time, Esme was able to walk on her own for the first time in her life, and appeared on England's This Morning show in order to meet Santa Claus. Her mother comments:
"To watch her walk over to Santa was our very own Christmas miracle. The first thing Esme said to him was 'look Santa, I can walk'."
This little girl's transformation should warm your heart on those cold winter nights!