Slowly but surely, motor function returns for 5-year-old after brain surgery

Like most 5-year-old boys, Camden Nechrebecki rarely sits still.

“If you had told me on April 16 that he would be doing this, I would not have believed it,” Nechrebecki’s mom, Jodi Nechrebecki, said.

In March a trip to the doctor for what Nechrebecki’s mom thought was a cough turned into a MRI test confirming he had Cavernous Malformation--leaking blood vessels that were causing bleeding on his brain stem. Now, just a few months later, Camden likes to show off the scar from his nine-hour brain surgery.

“I can't feel it," Nechrebecki said. “I only feel it when the band-aid is on.”

“When he left the hospital he wasn' t able to sit up on his own. We had to prop him up with pillows. He wasn't able to walk without assistance.” Jodi said. “It was like having a newborn--a very large newborn.”

Cognitively, Nechrebecki didn't change a bit, but since April he's had to work to regain his independence at the Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute in Burnsville. Crawling was a major milestone.

“Balance was hard, but I liked it," Nechrebecki said. "It was one of my favorites."

These days occupational therapists are helping Nechrebecki with smaller movements--such as holding pencils--in preparation for starting kindergarten.

“He had a difficult time with motor skills. Even holding scissors during the evaluation he broke down crying,” Occupational Therapist Emily Brovold said. “That was eight weeks ago. It's extraordinary. I haven't really seen progress like that before.”

Cleared to return to biking, swimming and even to start T-ball, Nechrebecki’s only restriction is to stay away from contact sports. Jodi said she feels like she's slowly gotten her little boy back.

“I can remember the day in the hospital I was able to breathe a sigh of relief and say, 'Ok, he's back with us,'” Jodi Nechrebecki said.