A toddler who could end up with brain damage if she bumps her head is finally allowed to run around thanks to a protective helmet.
Little one-year-old Kalisie Sisco has hydrocephalus, a condition which causes a buildup of fluid in the brain, and can be deadly if left untreated.
Doctors performed an operation to insert a shunt, a medical device which drains the excess fluid in the brain and relieves pressure, when she was five-weeks-old.
But the life-saving shunt is extremely delicate and her parents Ashley Gray-Bennett, 31, and Jeremy Sisco, 31, had to watch Kalisie closely to ensure she didn’t bump her head.
Disrupting the shunt would mean she would have to go into emergency surgery to fix it, otherwise the excess fluid would not drain causing swelling which could result in brain damange.
As a result, stay-at-home mom Ashley, and Jeremy, a construction worker, were never able to let her run freely or play boisterously with her three siblings.
Last month, the toddler, of Hindsville, Arkansas, USA, was fitted for a light-weight pink helmet specifically designed to protect her shunt, which she wears for five hours each day.
Mother-of-four Ashley said watching Kalisie run uninhibited for the first time with other children was extremely emotional.
Ashley said: “Before Kalisie got her helmet I was constantly worried about her. If she hit her head or even bumped the shunt a little bit it could be catastrophic.
“Any time my kids were getting a bit rowdy or having fun I’d have to tell them to calm down.
“I could never let Kalisie out of my sight because I worried she’d fall and hit it.
“I couldn’t let her go outside without holding my hand, or run around with the other kids. It was so hard.
“We got her helmet a few weeks ago and it has changed our lives already. It’s super light-weight – only about four ounces and it has given me so much peace of mind.
“The first time she put it on and I was able to let her go out into the yard on her own – it was so special.
“It was a wonderful feeling. You could tell she was a little bit worried but she loves it now. She can run around just like a normal kid now.
“It keeps her safe which is a huge relief to me and her dad.”
Even though the helmet keeps Kalisie safe and has given her a new level of freedom, she isn’t the biggest fan of her new headgear.
Ashley said: “She really hates it though, she doesn’t like it at all. But she understands that it’s the only way she can play outside. She understands it’s to keep her safe.”
The happy toddler also lives with cerebral palsy and has been fitted with braces to improve her walk as she currently treads on her tip-toes.
But mom Ashley said her daughter is a miracle as doctors worried she would not lead a functional life after she was deprived of oxygen at birth.
Kalisie was born by emergency c-section in Mercy Hospital Northwest Arkansas in January 2017 after Ashley’s placenta partially detached from her uterus.
Doctors worked for five minutes to revive her baby, before Kalisie was transferred by air ambulance to Arkansas Children’s Hospital in Little Rock.
The baby spent 14 days on life support and doctors began to speak to her parents about turning off the machines.
However, the tot began to improve and came home for the first time six weeks after she was born.
Ashley said: “The doctors believed she was brain dead. We were really given no hope that she would ever lead a normal life.
“They told us that we should consider taking her off life support. But we never gave into that idea. We knew we couldn’t stop fighting.
“We did a lot of praying. On the eighth day I finally got to hold her and it was so emotional.
“On the fourteenth day she started breathing on her own and they took her off the machines.”
“Five weeks after she was born she was fitted with a VP shunt, which helps drain off the extra fluid on her brain.
“Now, Kalesi walks, she plays and talks just like a normal one-year-old. She has a lot of trouble walking, she’s really wobbly but the braces have helped a lot.
“She loves baby dolls and dressing up. She loves her kitten strawberry Whiskers and her therapy dog Coco. He has helped her a lot.
“Considering where we were 18 months ago we’ve come so far and Kalisie just keeps thriving.”