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Surgery Gives Hope To Boy Trapped In His Own Body

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Marquis and Paula Burleson (credit: CBS)

Marquis and Paula Burleson (credit: CBS)

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ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (CBS4) – There is new hope for a young boy trapped in his body. He can’t walk or even feed himself, but surgery may unlock his muscles.

CBS4 Health Specialist Kathy Walsh sat in on the procedure, which was brain surgery, the same operation to help patients with Parkinson’s disease. It holds promise for third-grader Marquis Burleson, who just wants his body to cooperate.

Marquis is a youngster who can’t sit still. He twists and turns and can’t control his movements, but Marquis’ can talk just fine.

“There’s not a whole lot of things he can do now,” Marquis’ mother Paula Burleson said.

Paula said it wasn’t always that way. Her son was born healthy and developed normally, but at age 5 Marquis had trouble holding a pencil, and then his walk became labored.

“He was having trouble where he would drag his right leg,” Paula said.

Marquis was diagnosed with a rare brain disorder called “generalized dystonia,” a short circuit in the motor program.

“That part of the brain stops functioning,” Paula said.

Marquis is totally dependent.

“We don’t have a cure really for any form of dystonia,” neurologist Dr. Rajeev Kumar said.

But a surgery called “deep brain stimulation” holds promise. In an operating room at Swedish Medical Center, neurosurgeon Dr. Adam Hebb drilled two holes in Marquis’ skull. He threaded hair-thin electrodes deep into the brain.

Marquis’ grandfather was there to calm him while Kumar found the area responsible for the movement. He then sent electrical pulses to jam the abnormal signals.

In a week Marquis will have a sort of “brain pacemaker” put in his chest. Doctors say he could walk again.

“I think over the next several months we should see this young boy markedly regain his independence,” Kumar said.

The Burlesons are hopeful that the loving little boy can finally escape his body prison. The hope is Marquis will show improvement within 2 to 6 months. He will need physical therapy.

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