If it weren't for the braces on her legs, you'd have a tough time telling Sarah was any different than other 5 year old girls. She loves the jungle gym as much as the dance floor! However for Sarah, who suffers from cerebral palsy or CP, every dance move is a challenge.
Her dad, Jeff Derbes says, “There are times when it’s just, it’s hard for her to go up and down the stairs and she wants to keep up with the other ones and it’s hard sometimes to watch.” Jeff and Tammy Derbes have faced one hurdle after another since the day Sarah was born. 10 weeks premature, with underdeveloped lungs, Sarah is lucky to be alive.
Sarah's undergone physical therapy since she was diagnosed as a toddler, but she now has a new treatment in her program. As part of an international study, Sarah will receive injections of something more commonly found in the plastic surgeon's office. It's called Dysport, which is a form of botulinum toxin-a. You may also know it under its other brand name, Botox.
LSU professor of neurology and pediatrics, Dr. Ann Tilton says, “The common denominator of all those medicines is that it loosens muscles we laugh and say those aren`t wrinkles, those are overactive muscles so you have to relax the muscles.”
At Children's Hospital in New Orleans, Dr. Tilton was one of the first to use botulinum toxin-a for this type of application. She says, "The data was clear. Our observations as well as know studies have shown that it makes a big difference. It relaxes the overactive muscles, but also gives the opposite ones a chance to work because if you’re too tight here, this one’s stretched."
It works exactly the same as Botox. A plastic surgeon would inject that in the forehead, relaxing the muscles and reducing fine lines. In this case, a doctor will inject it in the calf. It relaxes those muscles and makes it easier for patients to walk.
Jeff and Tammy hope the Dysport will help Sarah keep up on the playground and they hope the study will help 800,000 others across the United States, who also suffer from CP.