What is life like for a child after a hemispherectomy?

Dr. Aria Fallah, MD

After a child has a hemispherectomy the child's abilities in language, reading and writing are more likely to return. There are some abilities that are less likely to return, including motor function and visual field, a part of the child's vision. The other factor that's really important is when the surgery is being performed. The sooner this procedure is performed, usually before the age of two, the deficits may be minimal because the brain has an incredible ability to rewire itself.

Immediately after surgery, one-half of the body may be paralyzed. If the hemispherectomy is on the dominant half of the brain, the child may not be able to understand or speak, but over time and with rehabilitation, these functions can be influenced to return. These functions usually don't come back to 100 percent but where that child lies between minimal improvement and maximal improvement is a function of the age, rehabilitation and also the motivation of that child.

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