Battling Bruin: Kourtney

Posted March 2015

Kourtney Daigle is a 10-year-old little girl who loves the ballet, computers, watching sports and hanging out with friends. Kourtney and her twin sister Kaitlyn enjoy attending sporting events and love to cheer on the Bruins. She has family and many friends who are UCLA alumni.

When she was a baby, Kourtney had small seizures where she would be absent for a few seconds. She woke often during the night and was restless during the day. Kourtney was physically challenged and struggled to express herself because her speech was unintelligible. It was difficult to understand her basic needs like what she wanted to eat, what toy she wanted to play with, who she wanted to hold her, and any other important need of a young child. Kourtney is a super hard worker and has had many hours a week of speech therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy and other special instruction to help her.

Kourtney made very slow progress with her speech but she is a very determined little girl. She has attended speech therapy five times a week for most of her life and uses an assistive technology device to help her communicate and write. Kourtney has given speeches to help raise funding for assistive technology for other children and has participated in university classes to help speech therapy students learn about children with speech disorders.

When Kourtney was six years old, a genetic test revealed that she has a rare genetic duplication that causes her Apraxia of Speech, Epilepsy, and Dyspraxia (a muscle disorder). After many epilepsy studies at Mattel Children's Hospital UCLA, the doctors determined that she had several different kinds of epilepsy: absence, tonic-clonic and electrical status epilepticus in sleep (ESES). Kourtney’s epilepsy makes it difficult to process language, sleep well and retain her memory. Last fall, her family attended the Walk to End epilepsy event as part of the UCLA team and Kourtney was thrilled to see the UCLA cheerleaders encouraging all the walkers.

Our family affectionately calls Mattel Children's Hospital UCLA “Hotel UCLA.” Kourtney has spent many weeks at UCLA having EEG’s and other epilepsy tests performed trying to find better treatment options. Most epilepsy medicines have bad side effects and are difficult for kids to handle. Kourtney is a trooper…she never complains and she appreciates the numerous doctors, nurses and therapists helping her with new treatments and ongoing therapy. We are so grateful for the pediatric neurology program at UCLA. On her most recent visit with her neurologist Dr. Lerner, Kourtney got a special surprise from Kelly Polich and friends on the UCLA Sprit Squad….her very own UCLA uniform. Go Bruins!

The UCLA Spirit Squad is so very proud to present this month’s Battling Bruin, Kourtney Daigle.

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