Feature Stories

Kristina Rolfes • June 28, 2016
Brain injury won't keep this budding actor from his Broadway dream.
Greg Kenney

Greg had been training for weeks for the 2015 Rock ‘N’ Roll Virginia Beach Half Marathon and seemed in perfect health. But when Greg was within a few hundred feet of the finish line, he went into cardiac arrest and collapsed.

Running a few paces ahead of him in the race was Adrianna Amarillo, a medical resident. When she heard someone call for medical help, she turned around, ran to Greg, and performed CPR until a medical team arrived to airlift him to the hospital. But because of the prolonged lack of oxygen to his brain, Greg sustained a severe brain injury.

Later that evening, Amarillo went to work and saw Greg in her ICU. Greg’s mother, Stephanie Watson, says that Amarillo had found an angel pendant on the road a few months earlier. After someone said “you must be his guardian angel,” she remembered the pendant and gave it to Greg.

Christianna McCausland • June 28, 2016
3-year-old Sanayah is thriving despite spinal cord and traumatic brain injuries.

No one needs to tell Eric Pineiro that life can change in an instant. That moment for him was June 20, 2015. He was driving his wife and 2-year-old daughter, Sanayah, home from the mall when a drunk driver swerved into their lane. The impact killed a passenger in the oncoming vehicle, and sent Sanayah’s mother, Nandraine, to Shock Trauma, and Sanayah and her father to the hospital. The crash left Sanayah with a severe spinal cord injury, brain hemorrhage, and concussion. Although her spine was intact, the swelling—and the damage to the nerves that followed—left her paralyzed from the chest down.

The weeks that followed were difficult. Eric, whose condition had stabilized, spent long, sleepless nights with his daughter hoping she would survive, while Nandraine struggled to recover from her own injuries and the anxiety of being separated from her daughter.

Abigail Green • December 08, 2015
Short-term intensive therapy jumpstarts Anthony's progress toward independence.
Anthony Olvera

Four-year-old Anthony Olvera was born with a rare genetic disorder called Warburg micro syndrome. Characterized by cognitive, visual, and physical impairment, as well as cerebral palsy, Anthony’s condition meant that his vision was impaired, and he was unable to walk, sit up by himself, or communicate. The family knew the challenges he faced all too well—Anthony’s older brother Giovanni, 15, was born with the same condition.

So when the opportunity arose for early intervention for Anthony, the family wholeheartedly embraced it. 

Christianna McCausland • December 08, 2015
A Special Prom for Kids With Autism

If you saw Madison Plaisance at her prom, you might have mistaken her for a princess. And she would say you were correct.

Kristina Rolfes • December 08, 2015
Christian's family searched for a diagnosis for years.  They finally found answers—and treatment—at Kennedy Krieger Institute. 

Multiple specialists spent eight years seeking a diagnosis for Christian Meese, ordering brain MRIs, muscle biopsies, blood tests, and sleep studies. When Christian and his family turned to the Neurology and Neurogenetics Program at Kennedy Krieger, experts found an answer through whole exome sequencing—a technique that analyzes thousands of genes all at once with a single test.

Knowing the cause of Christian’s developmental disability means doctors can offer targeted treatment for his individual needs. 

Abigail Green • September 08, 2015
When a rare condition left Megan Silcott paralyzed, her dreams of a future in fashion and acting were put on hold —until Kennedy Krieger helped her walk the runway at New York Fashion Week.

Megan Silcott, an athletic and outgoing 16-year-old, was about to start her junior year of high school in August 2012. She was looking forward to getting her driver’s license, prom, graduation, and a future in fashion or acting. But Megan’s dreams were suddenly put on hold one frightening morning when she woke up to find herself paralyzed from the shoulders down.

Megan had been out with friends the previous night but returned home because she was not feeling well. It turned out she was suffering from acute disseminated encephalomyelitis (ADEM), an extremely rare condition characterized by a brief but widespread attack of inflammation in the brain and spinal cord that damages myelin, the protective covering of nerve fibers.

Christianna McCausland • September 08, 2015
Helping families affected by traumatic experiences
Center for Child and Family Traumatic Stress

In the bustling urban center of Baltimore, the Center for Child and Family Traumatic Stress at Kennedy Krieger Institute offers a bright, child-friendly oasis for families and children struggling with the effects of traumatic experiences.

Christianna McCausland • September 08, 2015
Innovative therapies helped Kevin DiLegge become the athlete he knew he could be
Kevin DiLegge Marathon

Kevin DiLegge is a competitor. According to his mother, Mary, her son likes to do just about anything except sit at home. Now 26, Kevin was diagnosed with cerebral palsy as an infant. Thanks to innovative physical therapy interventions at Kennedy Krieger Institute, Kevin learned to walk for the first time with a gait trainer and began riding a bike on his own last year.

Christianna McCausland • December 02, 2014
Activity-based restorative therapies got Penelope back on her feet after a spinal cord injury
Penelope Miller

About a week after Penelope Miller was born, in July 2012, her parents noticed her leg movement was more frog-like than her older brother’s was when he was a baby, and she didn’t have a strong kick. A visit to the doctor determined that everything was fine. Yet her parents, Tim and Heather, remained concerned. The family continued to visit doctors, and Penelope seemed to get stronger.

Until March of 2013. At the beginning of the month, Penelope was in such pain, particularly at night, that she writhed in her crib. Doctors diagnosed extreme constipation. Tim noticed thereafter that his daughter wasn’t standing as well, but thought she was dehydrated. By mid-month, she was completely paralyzed from the waist down. She was eight months old.

Kristina Rolfes • December 02, 2014
Conquering complex medical conditions together: One family's journey with Kennedy Krieger
Willie Burson

Twelve-year-old Willie Burson loves reading, drawing, and playing golf. He’s bright, too, having recently been accepted to a talented youth program. Seeing him today, you’d never guess this was the same boy whom doctors once said might never walk or talk.

Willie’s medical conditions are complex. He was born with a form of hydrocephalus and a Chiari brain malformation, which required several surgeries. He was also diagnosed with low muscle tone, damage to his central nervous system, and a swallowing and feeding disorder.