Marina Pellicciari loves basketball more than almost anything else. The 11 year old from New Jersey calls it her “passion” and says, “I have so much fun” when playing that the court is her favorite place to be. However, she has always worked harder than most other players her age because Marina has a disorder that most basketball players don’t: cerebral palsy. Due to muscle spasticity, until recently Marina didn’t have a single day go by without pain from her ever-tightening muscles. Then she went to see pediatric neurosurgeon Richard Anderson. After he performed a type of surgery known as selective dorsal rhizotomy, where he cut the carefully selected nerves that were causing the spasticity at Marina’s spinal cord, she is now much closer to pain free and can play her favorite game with more comfort than ever before.
Of course, that doesn’t mean that Marina’s challenges are completely over. She still has to work to keep up her skills and to account for the effects of her cerebral palsy as she plays. But Marina is motivated to succeed, and in the end, this driving force will contribute every bit as much to her game and her lifelong success as any single surgery or set of exercises. As she herself says, “You have to be competitive, you have to be willing…because you can’t just sit around all day and do nothing.”