Three-year-old Xohan was a typically developing preschooler when his mother first became aware of a change in his behavior. At a park, she noticed that her little boy was staring into space, in a non-responsive state. Soon afterward, he developed cyanosis (a bluish discoloration of the skin resulting from inadequate oxygenation of the blood) and began vomiting. He was initially diagnosed with partial focal seizures and sent home. His condition deteriorated, and he became less responsive and increasingly irritable and aggressive. A subsequent hospital visit and an extensive work-up ultimately led to a diagnosis of anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis, a rare inflammation of the brain, most commonly caused by a virus.
Xohan was admitted to Blythedale's Traumatic Brain Injury Unit for intensive rehabilitation, management of his complex medical issues, and caregiver training. The quiet and low-stimulation atmosphere of the TBI Unit provided the little boy with an appropriate environment for recovery. His clinical team included specialists in neurology, pediatrics, psychiatry, physiatry, social work, nutrition and a vast array of therapeutic modalities (physical, occupational, speech and feeding therapy). Xohan's mother, eager to facilitate her son's recovery, participated in Blythedale's TBI parent support group coordinated by the family's social worker. Xohan's recovery was slow at first, but after several months of chemotherapy, his enthusiastic team saw signs of improvement. Xohan emerged from his non-responsive state and began communicating, walking, and eating by mouth again. He responded quickly in his therapies and regained his skills, and was well enough to be discharged to Blythedale's Day Hospital in September. Last month, the bubbly tot thoroughly enjoyed himself during the Hospital's Halloween parade, enthusiastically trick-or-treating with his friends. What a treat!