For the Butler family, life changed in a moment. Eight-year-old Brayden was training in hopes of reaching the amateur national motocross championship. He needed just one more race to clinch a second place finish in the Alabama State Championship Series. “We were at the track for a practice day,” explains his mother, Christie. “It wasn’t a big deal. He was working on a jump he had done before.”
Brayden’s father, Sean, was on the track watching, and Christie had left the event for just a little while. But it was just a few minutes after she left that she got the phone call. “I hadn’t been gone 15 minutes,” Christie said. “I answered the phone and they said I needed to get back to the track immediately.”
While practicing a jump, Brayden fell, and due to a lack of oxygen, he began to posture and have seizures. Emergency technicians stabilized him and quickly put him in a helicopter for a 45-minute flight to Children’s of Alabama. At Children’s, the Butlers learned Brayden had a lesion on his brain with a hemorrhage. The cluster of vessels in the right hemisphere had ruptured and it wasn’t a typical brain bleed. “Dr. [Jeffrey] Blount, his pediatric neurosurgeon, explained that he had a less than 1 percent type of brain bleed that was actually located inside the brain,” Christie said. “Most bleeds would be between the skull and the brain.”
Because the bleed was located in the right hemisphere, it severely impacted the left side of Brayden’s body. He had to learn how to walk again and to use his left side, so doctors had Brayden participate in inpatient speech therapy, physical therapy and occupational therapy. While doctors said he may have to leave the hospital in a wheelchair, Brayden was determined to walk out of the hospital, which he did with the assistance of a cane. “The inpatient therapy treatment Brayden received at Children’s was a huge part of his recovery,” Christie said. “They worked with him multiple times a day. Without Children’s rehab team and Dr. Paola Mendoza, I don’t think we would have had the same experience with his recovery.”
Brayden continued therapy after he was discharged, going to outpatient occupational and physical therapies two times a week at Children’s. “Every time we saw the doctors they said things like ‘his improvement is radical’ and he’s ‘always ahead of the curve,’” Christie said. “He was making big strides.”
While he still doesn’t have the same use of his left arm and leg as he did pre-accident, Brayden was released to play sports again after about six months of outpatient therapy. Now going on 11 years old, he’s back to being almost as active as ever, participating in sports like bicycling, soccer and gymnastics in his hometown of Chelsea, Alabama. “He’s got such a positive attitude,” Christie said. “He doesn’t let his situation hold him back. And I know he wouldn’t be where he is without Children’s. They are incredible. They saved us. I truly believe that.”
*Brayden served as the 2018 local Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Champion for Children’s of Alabama and continues to raise awareness for the importance of children’s hospitals.