Friday, November 1, 2013

Isaac Brown, the Five-Year-Old Boy Who Feels No Pain

Isaac Brown is a 5-year-old boy from Iowa who suffers from a rare
genetic condition which makes him immune to pain, but not to the
effects of his frequent injuries. Painful falls, deep cuts and other
agonizing injuries that normally make children scream at the top of
their lungs and cry out for their parents, don't determine any kind of
reaction from little Isaac. Even after he broke his pelvis by falling
from playground equipment, he calmly acknowledged that something was
wrong, but he didn't feel pain.
Isaac was born with a conprivate part insensitivity to pain (CIP) and,
according to his parents, the first years of his life years were
especially hard as the boy "would just drop to the ground and smack
his face on the table. He thought the fall was fun." Unaware of the
damage he was doing to his body, he also put his hands on a working
oven burner and one time cut himself with sharp pieces from a mug he
had broken. His parents sought medical help but were disappointed to
find that his condition was untreatable.
The only advice medics were able to give the couple was to teach Isaac
to recognize pain. He now knows that bleeding is bad but he is still
unable to understand that there are different levels of pain which
vary in intensity. While he understands that his father accidentally
stepping on him is painful, he doesn't recognize that a cat brushing
against him, while it might be unpleasant to some, should not hurt.
Unfortunately, Isaac's response in both of these situations is the
same "Ow" that his parents thought him to say.
However, when he broke his pelvic bone at the playground, the boy
became aware that something was wrong, but wasn't quite sure what. "He
thought his ankle hurt," his mother says. Because of this, she
believes that "He does feel [something], but the pain has to be 20 to
30 times greater to what we would feel." Apart from his inability to
feel pain, Isaac also suffers from Anhidrosis – a rare condition that
affects fewer than 100 people in the United States, which renders him
unable to control his temperature or feel hot or cold. In the summer,
when the temperatures are sky-high, he is forced to stay indoors or
wear a cooling vest to help him lower his body's temperature.
Because CIP is so rare, medics don't know what causes it or what to
advise parents with children who suffer from it. In an attempt to
learn how to take better care of their son, Mr and Mrs Brown have also
sought help online and found "The Gift of Pain", a Facebook group
created by desperate parents looking to give their kids the chance to
a normal life. As members of this group, the parents of Ashlyn Blocker
– a 13-year-old girl with the same disorder who has been featured in
numerous news pieces when she was a bit younger, have set up a
gathering called "Camp Painless but Hopeful." Any family burdened with
CIP can attend and learn more about the condition as well as ways of
preventing their kids from unknowingly hurting themselves. Although
Isaac has been kept quite safe by his parents without resorting to
extreme measures, "other kids have had all their teeth removed because
they would self-mutilate, bite their tongues, chew their fingers off,"
Mr Brown says.

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