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Profiles: Michael Rehbein (and his parents) summary

You could introduce this case study as part of a biology assignment. Children should have some fundamental understanding of the human brain to benefit from this study.

Michael Rehbein was an athletic seven-year-old, climbing trees and playing ball. But then he began suffering uncontrollable seizures--60 or 70 on a good day, as many as 300 or 400 on a bad day. Doctors said the only solution was to remove the site of the seizures, which, in Michael's case was the left hemisphere. His parents approached Michael with the decision about having the surgery which would involve removing nearly half of his brain. Together they decided to proceed.

The emotional part of his brain would not be affected since this part of the brain is in the very center in a group of structures called the "limbic system." Recovery was painfully slow since Michael had to learn to walk and talk all over again. Six months after his surgery, Michael could only make one- or two-word utterances. But Michael was determined. One teacher who worked with him remembered the first full sentence Michael said to her: "I love you with all my heart."

After much work, incredible perseverence, and support from his mom and dad, Michael is now a teenager and getting on with life. His father said, "He's the same boy inside that he was before the surgery. He hasn't lost his drive."

Adapted from The Secret Life of the Brain by Richard Restak (Joseph Henry Press, 2001).


maphttp://www.ksu.edu/wwparent/programs/hero/hero-rehbein.htm--Revised March 17, 2002
Copyright © 1996-2005 Charles A. Smith. All rights reserved.