11/18/02 - Stretching Therapy

We first introduced you to Ryan Miller in the summer of 2001. He's the Scott City boy with cerebral palsy whose been getting a special stretching treatment to help him walk. It's been seven months since the last time we've seen him, but a lot of things have happened since then.
In that time Ryan celebrated his 13th birthday, and made another trip to Europeds, a clinic in Michigan based on stretching exercises. Even though Ryan has progressed, turning a year older means his body is maturing and changing, bringing on new challenges.
Looking at Ryan sitting in music class, he looks like any other boy his age. But unlike many other 13 year olds, Ryan's work goes far beyond the classroom. "I can walk up straighter, I'm not faster but my techniques better," Ryan says. Ryan suffers with cerebral palsy, his dream is to walk on his own. Ryan and his family say extensive physical therapy, that revolves around stretching exercises has helped. His mother, Sonya says, "When we got back home he was able to shower, dress himself, and undress himself completely." And that's a big deal for Ryan. Since turning 13, he wants more independence. Turning 13 also means his body's changing. His hamstrings have gotten tighter, making them harder to loosen.
Ryan will have two surgeries done in December. In the first operation, doctors will shave some of the skin off his hamstring muscles. In the second operation, they will implant a ball the size of a quarter in each of his ankles. Doctors hope shaving the skin off his hamstring muscles will even out his legs, by relieving muscle tension and helping blood flow. The balls will be implanted in a dead spot in his ankles and give his feet arches. Ryan will be a little weak at first, but he should be back on his feet within three days after the surgery, a challenge he's ready to accept.
"There's a chance I might have to wear a cast, that will make me weaker, but on the upside it will make me stand up straighter and walk better," Ryan says. His father Tommy says, "We believe Ryan will have a job like everyone else, be married if he wishes to do so, have a life just like you and I lead."