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Giving Chance a chance to walk

He was born three months early with polyps on his brain, weighed just a tad over two pounds and later was diagnosed with mild cerebral palsy.

But living up to his name, the now 5- year-old Chance Backus has seen his chances for a successful life greatly improve with the backing of a devoted father and a staff of health professionals at Women and Children's Hospital.

"Children's has been absolutely fantastic from the moment he was born; he had to stay in the hospital from when he was born for two months," said Darnell Backus, Chance's father. "I've had nothing but great relationships with everyone there."

Most recently, the youngster, who has been unable to walk due to his brain injury at birth, underwent selective dorsal rhizotomy surgery to improve his mobility.

"There has been incredible improvement," said Backus, a bill collector with Capital Management. "He's able to bend his knees and his ankles. And hopefully, the belief is he should be walking shortly."

Backus, 45, of Buffalo, said he realized there was a serious problem when his 18- month-old son still wasn't walking.

Dr. Melissa Azaula, a specialist in pediatric physical therapy, said he had high muscle tone in his legs and needed treatments of botox, which progressed to the special spinal surgery. A sensory nerve that goes to the spinal cord was clipped off to reduce the high muscle tone in his legs, said Azaula, who did not perform the surgery.

Chance was in the hospital for seven weeks following the surgery.

"His muscle tone and ability to move his leg are much better," Azaula said. "It's still a long haul for him, but Chance is a go-getter, he'll do it."

Chance currently uses a walker to get around. While he was recovering from his surgery, his classmates and teachers made him a video wishing him a speedy recovery. The talkative, upbeat youngster is enrolled in kindergarten at the Cantalician Center in Amherst and is popular at the school.

"He's never had a down time," his dad said. "He's quick to tell you, 'I can't walk because I have CP,' but he doesn't use it as a crutch. He can do everything any other kid can, except walk, and we are working on that."

He gets physical therapy five times a week and also does occupational and aquatic therapies.

Chance is fond of the hospital and likes to speak at length about his stays there, describing details about the care he's received.

"I was in the emergency room, and they put needles in my arm," he said. But he appreciates the way he's treated there and really enjoys the play area.

"I liked staying there because the nurses were nice to me, and I like the game room and toys," he said.

e-mail: esapong@buffnews.com

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