“2022 is going to be the year that everything changes,” said Prasad, a high school senior at Cypress-Ridge High School.
The 17-year-old was born with spastic diplegia, a type of cerebral palsy that causes tightness in the hip and leg muscles. All his life, he has had to use crutches or even a wheelchair at times.
In August, Prasad underwent a pediatric neurosurgery at Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital called Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy, or SDR, during which nerves were actually cut, and it has changed his life.
“We were like, ‘It’s a pretty safe surgery. It’s going to require a one-year commitment, but it’s better than having to live your entire life with this,'” Prasad said motioning to his legs. “I’ve been able to do things I never could do. I missed out on a lot of things as a child.”
Prasad did two months of inpatient therapy that included work with TIRR Memorial Hermann’s exoskeleton, a robot of sorts that he would wear three times a week to help him re-learn what so many people take for granted. “It was teaching my brain how to do the walking.”
Inpatient then turned to outpatient, where ABC13 met with him Monday. He is strengthening his muscles and walking more smoothly. At graduation this spring, the honors student would like to put it on full display.
“For me, it would be like, ‘I did high school and I learned how to walk from ground zero and all the way up.’ And that would be a moment I would never forget,” Prasad said.
Prasad hopes to be self-sufficient in time to go away to college next fall. He wants to study material sciences and engineering at Texas A&M and wants to shed any help he has needed in his young life.
“Hopefully walk without any crutches,” he said.
Dr. Manish Shah, a UTHealth pediatric surgeon, performed the surgery. Dr. Stacey Hall, assistant professor of pediatric rehabilitation medicine with UTHealth Houston, worked with Prasad during inpatient therapy at TIRR Memorial Hermann.
“He worked so hard. He is honestly one of my harder-working patients I’ve had,” Hall said. “What he’s accomplished is truly remarkable.”
Hall says Prasad is ahead of schedule in his recovery and therapy. He has a positive outlook and goals now that no longer seem impossible.
“New Year, new me.”
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