Medical Minute 4-5: Sam's Story: Relieving a Child's Pain

By: Melissa Medalie Email
By: Melissa Medalie Email

"I've had dystonia for close to a year. By March 2007, I couldn't walk."

One day Sam Gladen fell down and was never the same. He kept a video log of his crippling disease.

"To anybody who is watching this, just to watch it and doesn't know what it's like to have your childhood ripped away: It hurts," said Sam Gladen.

Sam has dystonia, a neurological disorder that causes muscle contractions, painful movements and abnormal postures. Sam's pain is clear in his home video.

"Don't think your life is over just because you have a leg brace and people stare," said Sam Gladen.

Sam is one of the first dystonia patients to undergo deep brain stimulation to ease his pain.

"We like to call it the pacemaker for the brain," said John Honeycutt, M.D.

Pediatric neurosurgeon John Honeycutt placed electrodes in Sam's brain that deliver constant pulses.

"We're re-wiring the brain," said Dr. Honeycutt.

The pulses help to keep Sam's muscles relaxed. The surgery takes six hours and part of the surgery is done while Sam is awake.

"To see if the stimulation is doing what we want it to do and that there are no side effects," said John Honeycutt, M.D.

Two years later, Sam and his little brother have traded in their video camera for something more age appropriate.

"I can walk around with my friends. It's just easier," said Sam Gladen.

He hopes his story will help others.

"This part of your life is suckish and screwed up, but it gets so much better down the road."

For more information: Ivanhoe Broadcast News2745 W. Fairbanks Ave.Winter Park, FL 32789 Melissa Medalie, Supervising Producer Medical Newsmmedalie@ivanhoe.comDirect Line: (407) 691-1516Viewer Line: (407) 740-0789 ext. 579

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