North Texas

North Texas Doctor Knows Pain, Perseverance of Cerebral Palsy

Children diagnosed with cerebral palsy face difficult challenges.

Michelle Gabbard sees the struggle in her four-year-old son, Kason.

"We always heard that Kason would never walk, Kason would never talk," Gabbard said. "When you have a kid that has CP, you have a kid that has muscle issues, vision issues, it could potentially be hearing issues."

But Kason is a fighter. And his family feels they have one of the best doctors in the country in their corner.

"When we met Dr. Jan she said, no, Kason does walk, and Kason already talks," Gabbard said.

Dr. Jan Brunstrom-Hernandez, a pediatric neurologist based in Plano, knows the pain first hand.

"I'm the only pediatric neurologist with cerebral palsy, as far as I know," she said.

Born three months premature, her parents weren't even sure if she'd live.

"They were told I had a zero chance of survival, and then when I did survive they said I would never walk, I'd never talk, I'd never do anything," she said.

Sound familiar?

It's a diagnosis not lost on Kason's mom.

"She inspires me, because Kason has some physical challenges and so does Dr. Jan, but she doesn't let that stop her," Gabbard added. "That helps me daily to push Kason to be a doctor himself one day."

While Dr. Jan is giving other families hope, through the years, her patients have helped her too.

"I didn't grow up thinking, 'Oh, I'm going to take care of kids just like me.' Because I wasn't actually comfortable in my own skin," she explained. "When you bottle all that stuff up inside and you feel like nobody really accepts you with your disability, and then all of a sudden I'd see all these kids and they would love on me for who I was and they would wrap their arms around me and say, 'We love you, Dr. Jan,' they gave me my life back. And now, there's nothing I wouldn't do for them."

A tough road, but worth every step.

"We only go around once in this world. There are no do-overs and life is too short not to live your best, " Dr. Jan said.

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