Surgery can help improve walking for children with cerebral palsy

Every year around 1,700 children are born with cerebral palsy in the UK. This lifelong condition affects the movement and coordination caused by either abnormal development or damage to the brain before, during or soon after birth.

However, children with cerebral palsy will now be able to have a surgical procedure that can drastically improve their ability to walk and quality of life.

The procedure, known as selective dorsal rhizotomy, consists of cutting some of the sensory nerves from the legs, in order to relieve stiffness, reduce the child’s pain level and improve mobility.

Due to the operation being irreversible, NHS England established an innovative study that assessed eligible children with cerebral palsy before and after the operation.

Janet Peacock, one of the lead researchers of the study, said: “NHS England has now decided that this procedure will be funded as a direct result of this innovative project. It’s great to get this decision so that it will make a difference to patients.”

The study revealed that the procedure helped improve movement, quality of life and levels of pain for the 137 patients selected and there were no significant health risks to the children from the surgery.

“This procedure is for children with cerebral palsy who can walk but are having problems because the stiffness in their legs leads to pain and a lack of control over movement,” Ms Peacock explained.

Researchers claim this study shows objectively that the procedure does improve motor function, and doesn’t have dangerous side effects.

Health Secretary, Matt Hancock said: “This is a revolutionary treatment which has the power to transform the lives of young children with cerebral palsy and give fresh hope to their families.

“Every parent dreams of seeing their children live long, healthy and happy lives and I’m absolutely delighted the NHS is funding this new procedure as part of our Long Term Plan.”