8-year-old girl with paralyzing brain damage regains ability to move on her own after world-first procedure by a robot

Thursday, June 13, 2024 - An eight-year-old girl with paralyzing brain damage has regained the ability to move on her own after undergoing a successful implant surgery by a robot.

Karleigh Fry, from Oklahoma, was initially paralyzed and could not eat, walk, or even sit up on her own. But now, she can lift her arms above her head, and there are signs she is beginning to move other body parts, according to Mail Online.

A robotic device fitted an electrical implant into her brain to 'reawaken' areas involved in movement

This is the first time the procedure has been performed on a child.

Dr Amber Stocco, the pediatric neurologist involved in the procedure described the surgery as a 'milestone'.

'Our young patient is already showing promising results, and we hope this procedure will pave the way for more pediatric cases worldwide.'

Meanwhile, Karleigh's mother, Trisha Fry, said the family saw improvements the moment the doctors turned the electrical device on, adding, 'I think she’s going to have a great future for sure.'

Karleigh suffers a hereditary condition called rapid-onset primary dystonia, a neurological illness that causes painful muscle contractions and abnormal movements.

Doctors believe that the condition causes abnormal electrical patterns in the brain, especially in areas that concern involuntary movement.

The device involves the placement of a pulse generator that sends electrical signals to the parts of the brain that control body movement. It can either inhibit overactive neural connections or activate underactive ones, depending on the condition.

The tool is also used to treat Parkinson's disease, tremors, epilepsy, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and dnoepression.

Dr Amber Stocco, pediatric neurologist and medical director of Child & Adolescent Neurology at Bethany Children’s Health Center, a partner of the OU Health doctors, said their team is now ‘on the leading edge of what’s happening in the world of deep brain stimulation, as well as robotics.’

Dr Andrew Jea, the Oklahoma Children's Hospital pediatric neurosurgeon who operated on her, said: 'This marked the global debut of using a robot from our operating rooms to perform deep brain stimulation in a child, setting a precedent not only in Oklahoma but also across the United States and worldwide.' 

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