Days after celebrating its 70th anniversary on 5 July 2018, NHS England announced that selective dorsal rhizotomy (SDR) surgery would be made available on the NHS.
SDR is a complex surgical procedure that relieves tight or stiff muscles for cerebral palsy sufferers, particularly children. It involves operating on the nerves in the spine and has the potential to offer improved mobility. This treatment can allow children who were previously unable to walk to become mobile and independent, and is therefore potentially life changing for the individual and his/her family and carers. With better mobility, children who receive treatment may also suffer from fewer complications arising from their condition, which could in turn potentially save the NHS further money whilst improving their quality of life: a win-win situation. In the past, time-stretched parents of children suffering with cerebral palsy have often had to fundraise in order to pay for this popular surgery, sometimes having to travel abroad for the procedure.
The treatment will be made available immediately in certain hospitals across England, with around 400 patients expected to benefit. To qualify, a child must be between the age of three and nine years old and classed as level I or II under the Gross Motor Function Classification System (GMFCS).
Helen Hammond, senior associate in the clinical negligence team at Penningtons Manches, who specialises in claims brought by individuals with cerebral palsy, comments: "It is fantastic news that this specialist treatment is being opened up to many more worthy candidates, given the benefits it offers. The improvement this surgery can make to an individual's quality of life should not be underestimated, nor should the great relief this change will bring many families who may have been struggling to self-fund the procedure.”