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 congenital 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.