A Ballplayer’s Remarkable Rally

July 8, 2019
Topics: Neurology

Tyler Rice
Tyler Rice

Tyler Rice has been playing baseball since he was 4 years old. So when he steps onto the field with the Vincennes University Blazers this fall, it will be the result of years of hard work, as well as a poignant reminder that not too long ago, Tyler’s parents weren’t sure if their son would ever walk again.

When Tyler was 10, he woke up one morning and couldn’t move his left leg or arm. Parents Chris and Christina Rice took Tyler to the emergency room at Riley Hospital for Children, where Riley Pediatric Neurologist Meredith Golomb, M.D., was on-call. 

“When I first laid eyes on Tyler, I thought he’d had a stroke,” she recalls. “But then an MRI showed that instead of having lesions on just one side of his brain, as with a stroke, he had lesions on both sides. That’s when we knew it was something more.”

Tyler was moved to the ICU and underwent days of testing before being diagnosed with a very severe case of acute disseminated encephalomyelitis, or ADEM, a brief, intense attack of inflammation in the brain.

“That whole week in the ICU was the scariest thing for us because there just wasn’t any information about kids with ADEM that severe,” Christina remembers. “Is he going to walk again? Is he going to play ball again? Even at 10 years old, he was an athlete, and he was really good, but his whole future was in limbo.”

Tyler was given steroids to stop the lesions from growing, and he spent the next month in inpatient physical therapy rehab. During his final week, he graduated from using a wheelchair to walking with braces. “I remember throwing a baseball in the hall in my wheelchair in the evenings,” says Tyler, now 17. He spent several more months in outpatient therapy, re-learning to walk and, eventually, run again. It would have been hard to believe back then where he is today: preparing to start a college baseball career at Vincennes, where he plans to study homeland security and public safety and, of course, continue to improve his game.

“We want our story to be told because when some other kid comes in with ADEM, they can tell them about Tyler, and about how not only did he get it all back, he went on to play college ball!” Christina says. “We want to give someone else that hope.”

Riley Blogger

The Riley Blog is written and/or edited by members of the Riley Children's Foundation Communications Staff.

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