Teen opts for surgery to regain control of life
Austin Milburn, a 16-year-old Cy-Fair High School student, took a stand so that epilepsy couldn't control his life anymore.
Milburn, a former competitive gymnast, underwent grid surgery in February to remove a small section of his brain that was affected by epilepsy.
He had his first seizure when he was 9.
His chance of not having a seizure again is greater than 70 percent, said Dr. Gretchen Von Allmen, his Children's Memorial Hermann Hospital pediatric neurosurgeon.
Von Allmen met Milburn five years ago and sought to control his seizures with medication. When the seizures became more frequent, the family began considering surgery.
Choosing surgery was a choice toward a more normal life, Milburn said.
"I was ready. If I would get overheated or not get enough sleep, it could trigger it," he said. "My quality of life has improved. I would definitely recommend it."
Before surgery, his brain was mapped several times with electrodes to determine the area to be removed, Von Allmen said.
Recovery time was a short stay in the hospital. He was back to school within a month and is expected to be fully healed within six months. He'll continue anti-seizure medication for a couple of years as a precaution.
"He's really driven and wanting to have a normal life. It's amazing. He's so inspiring," Von Allmen said. "This is why I do what I do. Epilepsy takes a big toll on families and kids. The sooner the surgery is done, the better the chance of doing well. He was at the point when he decided to go the next step besides medicine."
One of three children of Kim and Kevin Milburn, Austin Milburn attended Lamkin Elementary School and Arnold Middle School before attending Cy-Fair.
He began taking gymnastics at age 7 with the goal of becoming an Olympian. He was a regional vault champion at age 11.
His dream ended when seizures became more frequent and endangered his safety.
Today, Milburn, coaches youths at Cypress Academy of Gymnastics, 11707 Huffmeister Road.
Tom Meadows, Cypress Academy's boy's head coach, has known Milburn for seven years and watched him progress as an athlete and coach. He said Milburn is caring and dedicated.
"He's one of those kids that does a great job. He grew up in this program; so he's able to coach and emulate what we expect for his students. He teaches them like they're his own," he said. "Even after the surgery, he came here to see us. He's awesome."
Becoming a coach is a way for Milburn to pass along his extensive knowledge of the sport.
"I want to offer my skills. I know how to do everything. I've been coaching since 2009 when I stopped competing," Milburn said. "At times it can be challenging, but it's fun. I want to help them get to the higher levels. It's just fun."
His new goal is every teenager's dream.
"If I can go without a seizure for six months, I can start driver's ed, and hopefully, in a little while I'll be able to drive," he said.
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