Leroy High School
Samantha Davidson was a healthy child until the fall of 2007. She began complaining of her arm and wrist hurting. She was diagnosed with dystonia, a serious neurological movement disorder in which sustained muscle contractions cause twisting and repetitive movements or abnormal postures. While dystonia is rarely life-threatening, it is life-altering.
By March of 2008, Samantha was utilizing a wheelchair. Her life was now a regimen of physical and occupational therapy, as well as frequent trips to the hospital. With minimal improvement, Samantha made the decision to undergo a surgery called Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS). DBS requires the patient to be awake while undergoing the surgery. .
The surgery was successful. When her family entered the neuro-intensive care unit after the surgery, Samantha’s sister burst into tears. In typical fashion, Samantha smiled and said, “What’s wrong with you, dorkfish? You’re not the one with a hole in your head.” .
One week later, with the neurostimulator implanted through the tissue of her neck and in her chest wall, Samantha returned to school without the wheelchair. She could again walk. .
The family hoped this would be the end of Samantha’s medical journey. One evening, however, Samantha asked if she could undergo surgery to cut the tendons and ligaments in her arm, which would give her more use and control of the limb. The rehabilitation and recovery was intense and painful, but Samantha fought through—keeping her eyes on the ultimate goal. At present, she continues to undergo physical and occupational therapy every week. .
Samantha is a straight A student at Leroy High School. She has been an official member of the McIntosh Volunteer Fire Department since she was 14 years old. She is secretary of the McIntosh VFD competition team, and she can be found at every practice teaching the members the rules of the competition and encouraging them to overcome their weaknesses and build their strengths. Samantha was recently honored with the “Rodney Renfroe Junior Firefighter of the Year” for Washington County. .
With the goal of entering the field of bio-medical research, Samantha educates emergency medical technicians about dystonia and the DBS surgery. She also works with young people facing similar medical problems, encouraging and advising them of her own experiences. In nominating Samantha as a Young Hero, teacher Kathy Jo Foster wrote, “She is a fighter and an inspiration, and while she may be having a dystonic storm, she maintains a grace about her presence. Samantha encourages everyone around her to do better and to achieve their dreams.”