Teen undergoes brain surgery to treat Tourette syndrome – with a remarkable outcome

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It is a story about overcoming obstacles. It’s also private. I used to be identified with Tourette syndrome on the age of six.  

My crew and I adopted a 17-year-old from Pennsylvania as he underwent a radical remedy for the situation, and thus far, it has modified his life for the higher.


As he ready for mind surgical procedure, 17-year-old Callum deQuevedo hoped for an opportunity at a traditional life — a life that may overcome the grip Tourette syndrome has had on him. 

Callum has an extremely extreme case of Tourette’s, a neurological dysfunction that may trigger tics starting from repetitive eye blinking to uncontrollable vocal — and bodily — outbursts. His ticks had been so unhealthy that generally he felt like he was choking.

Callum’s surgeon, Dr. Ted Panov at Mount Sinai West in New York, advised him that inserting wires into his mind, linked to a neurostimulator beneath his collar bone, was his final, finest hope of decreasing — or eliminating — the involuntary actions and sounds Tourette’s causes him to make.  

The surgical process has helped individuals with Parkinson’s illness, however has but to be authorized by the FDA to deal with Tourette syndrome. 

Calum’s situation turned uncontrollable three years in the past at a highschool observe meet, when he was 14. His mom, Daybreak deQuevedo, picked him up, and he mentioned he could not breathe. She thought he is perhaps coming down with one thing. 

“So the next day, sent him off to school and the nurse calls and says, ‘Listen, he really is struggling to breathe,'” Daybreak mentioned. “So, every day that week the nurse called and said, ‘Something’s not right.’ Nobody knew it was a tic.”

“We went to an ENT,” she mentioned. “And they said, ‘Well, There’s something called vocal cord dysfunction.’ And they sent us to a speech therapist … He said, ‘You know, this is beyond my expertise.’ And he sent us to Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.”

Callum’s tics included screaming, cursing and hitting himself within the head. He additionally skilled head jerking, face crunching and grunting. And generally in the midst of the evening, he could be up, screaming. 

His worst episodes led him to the emergency room.  

“Even after I got diagnosed I struggled with mental health and I actually tried to kill myself at one point,” Callum mentioned.

Daybreak estimates they noticed over 30 docs over seven months earlier than anybody identified her son with Tourette syndrome.   

“It’s really hard when you have a kid this age who’s really looking forward to doing things in life,” she mentioned. “And you’re saying — it’s the parent saying, ‘I don’t know if you can.'” 

How Callum received to be one in all few individuals with Tourette’s eligible for the surgical procedure was each bit a tribute to his mother and father’ persistence to get assist — and get the insurance coverage firm on board. It was additionally a tribute to Dr. Joohi Jimenez-Shahed, a neurologist and main professional on Tourette’s at New York’s Mount Sinai West.

It’s not uncommon for Tourette’s syndrome to go undiagnosed, however after visiting 30 completely different docs, Mount Sinai docs provided a promising remedy.    

“Callum was one of the few folks to whom extra treatment is needed,” mentioned Dr. Panov. “A lot of people out there are able to cover up for their tics and are able to deal with it. But unfortunately him, as bright as he is, it’s really stopping his life.”

The process Dr. Panov carried out in December concerned drilling two small holes into Callum’s cranium to insert tiny wires into his mind. Guiding the surgeons was an MRI scanner offering real-time photographs of his mind to assist discover the place the mind could possibly be most receptive for profitable remedy.

CBS Information was there for the process, marking the primary time journalists had been allowed to watch and file it. 

“The brain is smarter than anything that we can ever imagine, and the brain is able to get this help from this device and start learning together with the device. So months after months, Caleb can show improvement,” mentioned Dr. Panov.

Callum’s situation didn’t present a direct enchancment, and was not anticipated to. Over the vacations, his cranium needed to first heal, after which staples wanted to be eliminated.

As soon as that was completed, Dr. Jimenez-Shahed slowly began a neurostimulator that sends a present to Callum’s head. The hope was he would turn out to be calmer and acquire management. Over the subsequent hour and a half, the physician adjusted the degrees, and there was already purpose for optimism.

“I just felt like this is the best I’ve felt in a long time,” Callum mentioned in that second. 

Now, he is ready to regulate the neurostimulator ranges himself, utilizing an app. 

“I feel more relaxed now,” he mentioned. “It’s nice that I don’t have to be moving constantly to keep myself distracted or to stop the tics. I can sit at my house and watch TV without worrying about screaming, or hitting myself, or punching or anything like that.”

Callum believes his tics have been decreased 70% because the machine was implanted in his mind. He is now speaking much less about his tics, and extra about his goals.

In the long run, love from his mother and father — and science — gave Callum an opportunity he might have simply missed.

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