Child in Sydney with cerebral palsy hopes to walk after controversial surgery

Twelve months after she underwent a controversial spinal cord surgery, five-year-old Isabella Lombardo hopes to walk again in 2018.

Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy is regarded as a controversial technique

Isabella has a form of cerebral palsy called spastic diplegia and needs a wheelchair, walking frame, or her parents' help to move. Her parents took her to the United States for an operation called Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy (SDR).

A surgeon cut parts of her abnormal nerves that connected the muscles to the spinal cord, so that the muscles could relax.

Isabella's parents say they could see a difference soon after the surgery. Her legs were relaxed and her toes were not pointed.

It took three months for Isabella to recover from the operation, and since then she has been going through physiotherapy, five days a week and regular hydrotherapy sessions. This is to reprogram the movement patterns.

Isabella's mother says that after three months her daughter could use the walker again and even run with it. She is learning how to take steps with the help of two bright pink walking sticks.

Parents say they were aware of the risks of the surgery

SDR is a new technique and its long-term benefits and side effects are not yet know.

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