ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com) - A surgery to help patients walk has drawn thousands of people from around the world to a St. Louis hospital.
News 4 spoke to one doctor who's changing many lives and one of his young patients who is on a mission to walk on her own.
Step by step, 3-year-old Alissa Nootz is fighting back against cerebral palsy (CP).
"She's very very persistent, she will just keep trying and trying and she wants to try, that's the thing, she wants to do it," said Alissa's mother Janine.
After learning about a St. Louis doctor who performs surgery on patients with CP to help them walk, Alissa's family traveled from New Orleans for the procedure.
Dr. T.S. Park, a neurosurgeon at St. Louis Children's Hospital, says by relieving the muscle spasticity or rigidness and tightness caused by CP, patients can eventually walk with ease
"There are two sets of nerves, sensory and motor. We cut some of the sensory nerves and that relieves stiffness after spasticity removed she will basically have normal life," said Park.
That's the goal for Alissa.
The wall in Dr. Park's office is plastered with success stories from patients in more than 70 countries including Israel and Jerusalem. The doctor has studied and refined the procedure more than any other surgeon in the world.
And in early November, he hit a big medical milestone -- his 4,000th selective dorsal rhizotomy surgery.
As for Alissa, News 4 has been in touch with her family as she continues physical therapy at home in Louisiana. In the first few weeks after surgery, Alissa's rode a bike and walking a lot easier in her walker.
It will take time but the hope is Alissa will eventually be able to keep up with her twin sister Claire with little or no help.
"My hope for Alissa is that she'll be able to do anything that is possible," said Janine.
Dr. Park emphasizes the surgery does not cure cerebral palsy but it does improve select patient's quality of life.
The surgery is usually for young children, but he does operate on adults as well.