Hear Elijah's story,
as featured on KS95 For Kids.
Elijah's mother, Janelle, was halfway through her pregnancy when an ultrasound revealed that she was carrying identical twin boys. And then, in the next beat, she discovered that her babies were in danger. "I barely had a chance to let the news sink in, when they said I was already dilated," she remembers.
Elijah and his twin brother, Aaron, came into the world at 26 weeks' gestation, each weighing just over 2 pounds. The boys spent 10 weeks in a neonatal intensive care unit, where brain scans helped to diagnose Elijah with cerebral palsy - a complex condition that causes his muscles to be abnormally tight and contracted.
As the boys grew, it became apparent that Elijah faced challenges his brother didn't. "I worried that Elijah wouldn't be able to play sports and do things like his brother would," Janelle says. "And I worried that Aaron would feel that Elijah got all of the attention because of his special needs."
At Gillette Children's Specialty Healthcare, however, the family learned how to help Elijah while keeping the boys' connection strong. A team of specialists eased Elijah's tight muscles with medical treatments, assistive technology and therapy. The team involved Aaron in his brother's treatments whenever possible.
When Elijah turned 5, he underwent selective dorsal rhizotomy surgery - a complex procedure in which a neurosurgeon cuts the sensory nerve rootlets in the spinal cord that are contributing to muscle tightness. Janelle believes strongly that Elijah would be much further behind his peers had he not had the surgery. And his most important peer, of course, is Aaron.
"With hard work and a little adaptation, Elijah can do the same activities as his brother can," she says. "They have an amazingly close relationship, and Gillette has helped it stay that way."