Objectives: The authors present the case of an adolescent affected with refractory epilepsy due to a neonatal ischemic infarction of the right medial cerebral artery. Hemiplegic since the first months of life, she began presenting motor partial seizures associated with drop attacks at 4.5 years; these were initially well controlled by antiepileptic drugs, but at 10 years seizures appeared again and became refractory. Thus, at 14 years and 10 months, she was submitted to a right hemispherectomy that made her rapidly seizure free. In the post-surgical follow-up lasting 5 years, neuropsychological serial assessments showed an impressive progressive improvement of cognitive skills, namely, visuospatial abilities. This case seems to challenge the widely spread feeling that functional catch-up in brain-injured children could only occur early in life. In effect, the astonishing recovery especially of visuospatial skills in our case occurred in adolescence after a late surgical intervention of right hemispherectomy. Methods: Different neuropsychological aspects are discussed. The reorganisation process recovered the spatial and linguistic abilities as well as the verbal and visuospatial memory; however, there was a persistent impairment of complex spatial and perceptual skills as well as recall abilities. Despite the deficit of complex visual stimuli processing, the patient showed a good performance in the recognition of unknown faces. Conclusions: Probably, the absence of seizures in the first 4 years of life could have allowed a generally adequate compensatory reorganisation, successively masked by the persistent and diffuse epileptic disorder. The seizure control produced by surgery eventually made evident the effectiveness of the brain reorganisation.
- Brain reorganisation
- Early brain injury
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
- Clinical Neurology