JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - Seven-year-old Braylon McClain has boundless energy. But, for years that energy was confounding to him because he had little control over his arms and legs.
McClain was diagnosed with cerebral palsy at two years old, but the signs of CP were evident early on.
"He had a grade three brain bleed," Christen McClain, Braylon's mother said. "It caused holes in his brain from the brain bleed. So that's how we knew he was going to have a lot of delays."
Braylon, born at 26 weeks, four days remained in the hospital. His twin Bryleigh, had to have heart surgery to clip off an artery, but it was Braylon that would face life's toughest challenges.
"When Braylon first came to us, he didn't have good head control," Cindy VanHorn, Braylon's physical therapist said. "He didn't crawl well. He didn't sit at all."
Jerky movements and muscle and joint stiffness are all common characteristics of cerebral palsy. Cerebral palsy made Braylon's early developmental years so difficult.
"It was horrible," Christen said, remembering the developmental differences between her children.
Braylon's twin, Bryleigh, began to play and run. Braylon was left behind.
"Braylon goes along with her," Christen said. "But it's hard to see. He wants to do it. He just can't."
Even with therapy, Braylon struggled constantly with rigid muscles that just weren't working.
"I would literally have to pick him up and uncross his legs because he couldn't stand at all," Christen said.
Braylon's other sibling, Caleb, came along, and Braylon still struggled.
"His muscles had gotten so severely tight," VanHorn said. In the summer of 2015, breakthrough surgery was ordered for Braylon.
"They did an operation where they released his heel cords, his abductors, and his hamstrings," VanHorn said.
Just loosening up those tight muscles made all the difference in the world.
"Since then, he has been able to get up and walk," VanHorn explained. "The relaxation allowed the correct muscles to develop."
Something else happened, Braylon began noticing things in the classroom. Suddenly, everyone realized Braylon could see, without his glasses.
"We've seen massive visual improvements," VanHorn said. "He had glasses he could never tolerate. Now it was like wow! He can see. That's amazing."
"It's like night and day difference now, because he's a whole different little boy," Christen said. "His feet bend, which they did not before."
"One, two, three, four…" Braylon counted along, as he sat on a small bench in front of our TV camera.
There was a time this would never have been possible. Braylon's mom gives lots of credit to his therapist—and in turn, passes that on.
"This was God's plan for me. That's why I'm here," VanHorn said. "That's why I do what I do."
"TLC has really helped a lot with his being independent. I think one day he will be able to do it all." TLC, or The Learning Center, receives assistance from United Cerebral Palsy.
The money raised through the UCP Telethon helps children like Braylon realize their dreams.
Braylon is awaiting a lightweight stroller to help him get around when he tires of walking. UCP helps pay for items like this that Medicaid won't cover.
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