YONKERS - One little boy from Port Chester is battling for a chance at a normal life.
Shaun Lopez was born with Spina Bifida, which can occur during pregnancy when a baby's spinal column fails to close all the way. Doctors say that the 19-month-old has the most severe version of the birth defect.
Shaun endures different forms of therapy five days a week with the help of doctors at Children's Rehabilitation Center in White Plains. Those therapies include stretching out and relaxing his muscles in a pool.
He has severe curvature of the spine and bone deformities throughout his entire body. He is paralyzed from the chest down and fluid collects in his brain.
A small passage was created for drainage through the abdomen. The condition also prevented him from having control of his head and body, which meant he could not sit up. He could only lay horizontally, which created more issues.
Dr. Maria Pici, who heads up Shaun's case, had the idea to create a special brace to get Shaun in an upright position. Dr. Pici turned to JK Prosthetics and Orthotics in Mount Vernon to come up with a plan.
"We had to figure out how to make some room for growth in it,” Pici told News 12. “We had to figure out what material we were going to use. We also had to think about the weight of it. We didn't want it too heavy. We want this little guy up and standing."
It took close to six months of measurements and adjustments to get it right. The brace included special shoes for Shaun's clubbed feet and a halo with a strap to help keep his head upright.
In the three months since he began wearing the brace, the results have been promising. Shaun gained weight and grew one inch. His neck muscles were also able to strengthen and he was able to gain control of his head.
Shaun’s mother says the road ahead of him is long, but more hopeful. His first surgery to correct his club feet is scheduled for the fall.