4 Point Play Shows How Dr. Richard Anderson Gets Marina Back in the Game

Marina Pellicciari Story

KYIV, UKRAINE - JUNE 17, 2014: Jumpman logo by Nike painted on the black backboard of the old basketball court in Kyiv.Not one, not two, not three, but four media outlets shared a slam dunk story about Dr. Richard Anderson’s basketball-playing 11-year-old patient, Marina Pellicciari.

With her dream of being on the basketball court, Marina was not going to let cerebral palsy stop her. Cerebral palsy is a condition caused by an injury to the brain at birth.

“Typically children with cerebral palsy have motor problems and the majority have spasticity, which is increased muscle tone in their arms and legs,” says Dr. Anderson. This can make normal movements like walking and running difficult if not impossible in some cases.

After many years dealing with what they thought were irreversible problems, Marina and her parents met with Dr. Anderson, Pediatric Neurosurgeon at Columbia University Medical Center/NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, to discuss a remarkable treatment. Last June, Dr. Anderson treated Marina with a surgery called selective dorsal rhizotomy (SDR). 

“Selective dorsal rhizotomy is an operation that has been in existence for probably over 100 years, but it has just been more elegantly done in the last 30 years,” says Dr. Anderson. “You tease out the nerve roots coming off the bottom of the spinal cord that are contributing to the spasticity in the muscles of the legs. Then you separate each root (it is like a bundle of spaghetti) into much thinner pieces and send a bit of electricity through each one. If you get a normal response from the muscle it controls, you leave it alone. When you get an over-reaction of the muscle or spreading to other muscles, that fiber is then cut. This restores more normal balance to the tone of the legs. It is the only permanent way to get rid of spasticity. There are studies 25 years out now that show that spasticity doesn’t come back after a rhizotomy.”

After four hours in surgery, four days in the hospital, seven weeks of rehab, and a lot of hard work by Marina to get back in the game, we are thrilled to say that Marina is on the court again!

Take a look at the some stories that include interviews with both Dr. Anderson and Marina.

Next in line for Marina–a trip to Los Angeles to see her all-time favorite basketball player in his last season of play, Kobe Bryant. Kobe, you’ve got a special fan coming your way – you won’t want to miss her!

Learn more about Dr. Anderson on his bio page here.

Top image by rootstocks from dollar photo club

Posted on Jan 8, 2016 by Brigitte Magar

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