Vim & Vigor - Summer 2020 - UVA - 7

7

Letting

NOTHING
Break Her Stride
After years of misdiagnosis by others, a doctor at
UVA gets Alana Sanderson walking again
BY KAREN DOSS BOWMAN

F

or the first three
years of her life,
Alana Sanderson
hit the expected
developmental milestones on
time. When she started walking at 18 months, however, her
parents noticed that she had an unusual
gait: She strode pigeon-toed, with her feet
turning inward. Even so, they never imagined that three years later, Alana wouldn't
be able to walk at all.
Many toddlers start out walking with
their toes pointed inward, Alana's pediatrician assured her concerned parents, Libby
and Marion Sanderson, of Christiansburg,
Virginia. As months and years passed, however, Alana's legs gradually turned inward
as well, and her muscles became painfully
rigid with involuntary contractions. The
family consulted several doctors, including
orthopedic specialists and a neurologist.

"One doctor told me that I worried
about it too much," Libby says. "He said
that I should bring Alana back when
she turned 8 years old if her gait hadn't
improved by then. I felt like the doctors
were brushing her off."
By the time Alana turned 6, she needed
a walker or wheelchair to get around.
She had severe muscle stiffness from
involuntary contractions and was even
starting to have back pain. Desperate
for answers, Alana's parents again took
her to another orthopedic doctor, who
diagnosed her with cerebral palsy. The
specialist tried a number of interventions,
including physical therapy, casts, braces
and special shoes.

FINALLY GETTING ANSWERS

Another doctor referred Alana to UVA
Children's. In early November 2018,
she saw Amal Abu Libdeh, MD,

PHOTO BY UVA HEALTH

PHOTO BY JACKSON SMITH PHOTOGRAPHY

What Are Pediatric Movement Disorders?
Amal Abu Libdeh, MD,
UVA pediatric neurologist
and specialist in pediatric
movement disorders

Just like adults, children can have conditions that cause them to have uncontrollable
movements or prevent them from moving the way they want to. Some conditions may
cause muscle stiffness or poor balance and coordination. They can be distressing and
disruptive for children and their families.
UVA Children's experts treat a wide range of pediatric movement disorders, including
Tourette syndrome and tics, dystonias, tremor, ataxias, myoclonus and stereotypies. These
conditions may be the result of a brain injury, medication, an autoimmune disease or a
genetic mutation. They may affect just one part of the body or multiple areas.

VIM & VIGOR SUMMER 2020

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3/24/20 1:39 PM



Vim & Vigor - Summer 2020 - UVA

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