JIS News

Four-year-old Tennyson Cole will benefit from the first Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy Surgery for spasticity in cerebral palsy, to be performed in Jamaica on Monday (October 12).
The surgery will be conducted by noted Paediatric Neurosurgeon from Gillette Children’s Hospital, St. Paul, Minnesota USA, Dr. Joseph Petronio.
He will be collaborating with Professor Ivor Crandon, Head of the Surgery Department and Professor of Neurosurgery at the University Hospital of the West Indies (UHWI) and Consultant Neurosurgeons, Dr. Carl Bruce and Dr. Dwight Webster.
Cerebral palsy is a non-progressive injury to a part of the central nervous system (the brain or spinal cord) that controls voluntary movements. Spasticity is a complication associated with cerebral palsy, in which increased muscle tightness causes difficulty moving the affected limbs.
Speaking with JIS News, Consultant Physiatrist at the UHWI, Dr. Paula Dawson, who is also a member of the organising team, explained that the incidence of spasticity with cerebral palsy is very high and most kids with cerebral palsy will have spasticity.
“Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy describes a surgical procedure carried out to the lower area of the back, where sensory nerve fibres in the spinal cord are identified then selectively cut,” she explained.
“With Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy, we actually go in and cut some nerve roots which are going to the muscles, but are too stiff, especially in the lower extremity, that will sometimes prevent children from walking,” Dr. Dawson added.
Emphasising the potentially detrimental effects of spasticity and the importance of treatment, she noted that if the condition is not properly diagnosed early and treatment started immediately, it may lead to deformity, in the form of muscle contractures where the limbs are rigid and the children are no longer able to stretch them out.
Dr. Petronio is part of a five-member team from the Gillette Children’s Hospital who will be in Jamaica from October 11-17, to conduct spasticity clinics and workshops. The team comprises a Neurosurgeon, a Consultant Physiatrist, a Physiotherapist, a Prostethist and Orthotist (Bracing and Splint Specialist).
Clinics will be held on October 12 and 13, at the UHWI and the Orthopedics Clinic at the Bustamante Hospital for Children (BHC), respectively.
Paediatric Physiatrist and Head of the Gillette Children’s Hospital team Dr. Mark Gourmet, will be coming to the Physiatry Clinics where he, along with a local team, will administer phenol injections and conduct bracing evaluations.
The phenol injection can effectively weaken a spastic muscle, thereby reducing spasticity and allowing improvements in range of motion. Approximately 16 children will benefit from this exercise.
In addition, visiting Prosthetist and Orthodist, William Nolin and Christine Nolin, will collaborate with a team from the Sir John Golding Rehabilitation Centre to outfit approximately 16 children with braces.
A Spasticity Lecture will also be held on Monday (October 12) at 2:30 p.m. in the Main Lecture Theatre at the University of the West Indies (UWI). Presenters will include Paediatric Physiatrist and Head of the team, Dr. Mark Gormley, who will give an overview of Spasticity Management in Children; Dr. Joseph Petronio, who will speak on Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy; Amy Schultz, who will speak on Physiotherapy after Rhizotomies; and William and Christine Nolin will expound on Orthotics in Cerebral Palsy.
This is the Minnesota team’s second visit to Jamaica. In February, they gave lectures on managing children with spasticity. Four children with spasticity were examined, and Tennyson Cole was selected to undergo Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy Surgery.
The visit is organised by the UHWI, in collaboration with the Ministry of Health, the Bustamante Hospital and the Sir John Golding Institute.

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