CHRISTUS Cabrini Pediatric Therapy Center has been a beacon of hope to patients like 2-year-old Alec Patterson, who was born at only 23.5 weeks gestation with myelomeningocele — a severe form of spina bifida resulting in an incomplete spinal canal. As many as 90 percent of children born with myelomeningocele have hydrocephalus — a condition characterized by excessive fluid on the brain, which can cause learning and developmental delays. Alec was born with scoliosis in the upper part of his spine. After his premature birth, Alec underwent several procedures at another local hospital before his parents, Amanda and Derek, sought help from Pediatric Therapy Center when Alec was 6 months old.
“We were told that he would not have a good quality of life — that he would never walk or talk and would for the most part be in a vegetative state,” Amanda says. “Alec is now playing with toys, standing with braces and knee mobilizers, army-crawling when he wants to, and wheeling himself around in his scoot, a mini wheelchair.”
Amanda credits Alec’s developmental leaps and bounds to the two years of occupational and speech therapy he received at Pediatric Therapy Center. “When Alec first came to Pediatric Therapy Center and was evaluated for occupational therapy services, he was about four months behind developmentally,” says his occupational therapist, Jillian Malcomb, OT, PRN. “He wasn’t able to manipulate toys and objects or support himself sitting up. Alec was nonverbal and made only occasional sounds. He also had difficulty responding to requests or communicating his wants and needs as his receptive and expressive language skills were both severely delayed.”
Since he started speech therapy, Alec has gained the ability to use basic American Sign Language and can sign more than 50 words. “Alec has met and exceeded all our developmental, speech and occupational therapy goals,” Amanda says. “Early intervention is key to children’s success. Each of Alec’s therapists has had an enormous impact on his growth and development. With their help, Alec is living life the way God intended him to. “I can’t thank Alec’s therapists enough, Amanda continues. “They’re my go-to when we can’t figure out how to get him over the next hurdle. Whatever it may be, they’re there to help guide my husband and me along the way.”
At Pediatric Therapy Center, each child receives an in-depth evaluation to determine his or her specific deficits. This information will be used to develop a customized treatment plan to best meet the child’s needs.
“We believe spending time with families and other caregivers is a crucial part of our intervention and is key to their children’s ultimate success,” says Stacey Caplan, OTR/L, manager of Pediatric Therapy Center. “We provide ongoing education for our families so they are informed and more empowered to make a difference for their child outside the therapy session."