Skip to main content



Brianna and her fraternal twin sister were born at just 26 weeks. Brianna weighed a mere 1 lb. 15 oz. and was in the NICU for months. Once discharged though, her world was turned upside down once again when she was diagnosed with spastic cerebral palsy at eighteen months.

Cerebral Palsy is a condition caused by damage to the motor control centers of the developing brain and can occur during pregnancy and childbirth. It can cause varying degrees of spasticity/limitation of body movement and posture as well as sight-based perceptual problems, communication ability and impairments in cognition.

Brianna came to St. Charles outpatient rehabilitation for treatment of spasticity shortly after her diagnosis of Cerebral Palsy. Unable to walk when she initially began her rehabilitation, she soon began to walk with the assistance of a walker. However, due to the spasticity, she walked very high up on her toes. Jennifer Semel, MD, the director of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at the time recommended to Brianna’s parents that Brianna have selective dorsal rhizotomy (SDR), surgery that lengthens the tendon, allowing the muscle to return to its normal length and allowing the joint to straighten.

Brianna had the surgery and returned to St. Charles as an inpatient on the Pediatric Rehabilitation Unit. For two rigorous months she underwent physical and occupational therapy and was able to leave the hospital with her right foot completely flat on the floor, though her left foot remained on tippy toe. She continues rehabilitation as an outpatient and is now able to walk without a walker at all and uses crutches only for distances and balance issues.

Brianna is determined to reach every goal put in front of her and demonstrates an amazing resilience for such a young child.

For more information about Acute Rehabilitation at St. Charles Hospital, please call (631) 474-6797.