A new study at the University of Texas is taking a closer look at how young children with cerebral palsy cycle compared to those without the condition. Researchers are teaming up with Dell Children's Medical Center and the goal is to improve what therapies doctors prescribe.
Inside the Motor Control Laboratory at D.K.R. Stadium Matthew Rathmann pedals as fast as he can. If you ask him, he'll tell you he is a red Power Ranger in training chasing the bad guys.
"He's a very typical six-year-old boy. If he was sitting at a table with a bunch of boys you wouldn't know he had a disability," explained his mom Monica Rathmann. Matthew was born three months early and at one year was diagnosed with cerebral palsy.
The Rathmanns say Matthew doesn't let his condition or disability hold him back. They make the drive to Austin from San Antonio to see Matthew's doctors at Dell Children's and when they learned about the study they agreed to take part.
"So if we can help other children and pass that on, I think we can pay that forward, you know, and it's going to be really good," explained Matthew's dad, Andrew about helping other families.
Cameras around the room pick up Matthew's every move on the special bike and send the data to a computer.
"We can learn something from the lab about these kids with spasticity that will help us direct our therapies to intervene with a more focused way to make the muscles looser and give them the ability to functionally do things better," explained Dr. Patricia Aronin, a Pediatric Neurosurgeon at Dell Children's.
"I want Matthew to live just like everybody else and I don't want him to be hindered by his disability," said Monica Rathmann.
Matthew continues his Power Ranger training twice a week and will have another operation at Dell Children's later this summer. His resilience and humor inspire his family.
"He falls down and he gets back up. I've always told him that ever since he was small just get back up and don't let anything stop you. Just keep going," said Andrew Rathmann.
Researchers are looking for kids between the ages of 3 and 8 to take part in the study. If you think your child with cerebral palsy might be a good candidate you can email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.