DETROIT – A 4-year-old girl with cerebral palsy beamed with excitement in a recent video as she walked independently for the first time.
"I'm walking, yes!," she shouted while taking her first steps in a viral video that was posted on Facebook by her family.
It was the first time that Maya Tisdale, of Traverse City, Michigan, walked on her own since since being diagnosed with cerebral palsy before turning 2 years old.
"I even took a big step," she said.
In an interview, Ann Tisdale, Maya's mother, said she didn't expect Maya to do her exercises without her cane and start walking Saturday when she started recording. Maya practices her exercises daily for physical therapy.
"We were practicing her sit-to-stand (exercise) and she had never actually done that without her cane, so I got the video camera out," said Tisdale. "I called my husband to the room so he could watch her do that, and he was the one who prompted her to take a step, and she just started doing it, so it was pretty amazing because she did two new things."
Tisdale said her family was surprised about Maya's improvements.
"We were really just in shock because we didn't think that it would happen for a long time, if ever, until seeing her doing it," Tisdale said. "Our jaws were on the floor and our eyes were super big. We were just really excited, but we didn't want to start screaming and crying because we wanted her to keep practicing."
Maya was born in 2013 as a micro preemie, weighing 1 pound and 10 ounces. According to the family's website, Maya spent 87 days in the hospital before she could come home. However, when she did come home, Tisdale noticed her daughter wasn't doing any of her motor skills, like sitting up and walking, properly.
Maya was taken to the hospital and diagnosed with spastic diplegia cerebral palsy, which is a type of cerebral palsy that causes the muscles in the hips, legs and feet to be tight or spastic. Despite the diagnosis, Tisdale said Maya has always remained strong and independent.
"She's a very independent kid, and she's a very 'I can do it' kid," Tisdale said. "Having two older brothers, she wants to do what they're doing and she sees that they do everything on their own and she just wants to be like them."
In May, her family traveled to Missouri where Maya underwent selective dorsal rhizotomy surgery with Dr. T.S. Park, one of the nation’s leading pediatric neurosurgeons and a pioneer of the surgery, according to the family's website.
The surgery was intended to reduce Maya's spasticity and give her the ability to live with less pain and greater mobility.
"There are other hospitals, but St. Louis Children's Hospital is considered the best for this surgery and Dr. Park has pioneered a different technique for this surgery. We wanted to go where we felt she would have the best team."
Tisdale said that Maya, who's been given the name Mighty Miss Maya because of her strength, is still determined to permanently walk independently one day.
"She practices every day," Tisdale said. "Cerebral palsy, she still has that. It's not something that goes away because you're walking on your own. She's still taking steps and getting stronger. Hopefully, she'll be walking independently at some point."
Follow DeAsia Paige on Twitter: @deasia_paige