Two years ago, at age 5, Aditi Polamreddy was diagnosed with a brain tumor. After surgery to remove the tumor, a pilocytic astrocytoma, Aditi began 15 months of chemotherapy.
The surgery and chemo eliminated the tumor, but Aditi also needed something else: Because of damage caused by the tumor itself and side effects of the surgery to remove it, her brain was not communicating with the right side of her body as it was supposed to.
In the Lucile Packard Children's Hospital Stanford video below, pediatric occupational therapist Eiri Inenaga explains, "When Aditi came in, she had decreased awareness of the right side. What that means is that the brain will sometimes forget that that body part is there, and you need to remind them to actually use it. If they don't use it, they get something called disuse atrophy where the [brain] pathways are actually pruned away."
Aditi's physical and occupational therapists gave her lots of different ways to practice using the right side of her body so that her brain would remember it, and Aditi and her family have been working hard at the exercises. Their effort is paying off, said physical therapist Rachel Gilkerson: "She's able to run, she's able to skip, she's able to gallop, she's able to swim. There's not much that she can't do."
In the video, Aditi, now 7, looks pretty much like any other kid as she clambers around at a playground. She takes a break to say that all the therapy has been hard, "but I keep working, so it gets easier and easier."
Photo and video courtesy of Stanford Children's Health