The case of little Brianna Bodley is astonishing and shocking. The girl recently underwent surgery to disconnect half of her brain due to a rare neurological disease.
Brianna’s parents noticed the first disturbing symptoms in 2022. The girl suffered from recurrent epileptic seizures. Her body, especially one of her limbs, basically wouldn’t stop shaking. The attacks also occurred at night, during sleep. The child was taken to hospital several times, but initially doctors were unable to make a diagnosis. The diagnosis turned out to be very serious. Brianna developed a serious neurological disease called Rasmussen’s encephalitis.
What is Rasmussen’s encephalitis and how is it treated?
The disease occurs primarily in children and young adults. It attacks when the body’s immunity is reduced. It usually affects only one hemisphere of the brain. Its main symptom is recurrent seizures that are resistant to treatment. In the course of the disease, cognitive functions regress, vision and speech disorders occur. Learning difficulties and limb paresis also appear. The disease progresses and deprives patients of the skills they have acquired so far.
Initially, the girl was recommended drug therapy. However, the implemented treatment did not stop the progression of the disease or epileptic seizures. Therefore, the doctors decided to perform a hemispherectomy. The treatment involves “disconnecting” one part of the brain by eliminating the connection between the hemispheres. Surgery is considered the most effective treatment for Rasmussen’s encephalitis.
“Just disconnecting (part of the brain – editor’s note) is enough to completely stop the disease and essentially cure it. “Brianna will still be the same person even if half of her brain is disconnected,” explained Dr. Richard Aaron Robison of Loma Linda University Health.
Rehabilitation after Rasmussen’s encephalitis
Brianna underwent a hemispherectomy on September 28, 2023. The operation lasted 10 hours and was successful. The girl will undergo arduous rehabilitation, relearning how to walk, talk and perform basic activities. The six-year-old will not be able to move her left arm. He will also not regain peripheral vision in his left eye. Currently, the little patient is struggling with great pain after the procedure, and doctors are trying to alleviate these unpleasant symptoms.
“She has a very long road to recovery ahead of her, but she is a strong and determined girl. I know she will do great things and overcome it all,” Brianna’s mother, Crystal, wrote on the GoFundMe website.