Friday, June 1, 2012

Against All Odds

Meet Nicholas.  He was born under the worst possible circumstances.  All ultrasounds were normal, including the one they did the day of his premature birth.  Seven months into her pregnancy, Nicholas’s mom suddenly experienced a uterine rupture, a life threatening event for baby and mom. Fortunately, both survived but Nicholas went without oxygen for approximately two minutes during the emergency delivery, an oxygen deficit causing brain damage, and ultimately, cerebral palsy.

The severity of Nicholas’ oxygen deficit became quickly evident.  Doctors immediately performed a tracheotomy to assist with his breathing.  When he wasn’t swallowing, a belly feeding tube was inserted so he could be fed.  Nicholas was taken to an Evansville hospital’s neo-natal care unit for more intensive care for his medical needs.  He wasn’t expected to survive.

Once he proved doctors wrong, Nicholas wasn't expected to function like a normal little boy.  He moved his arms and legs very little.  Even upon initial assessment by his medical team, they felt all physical abilities would be severely limited and he’d be dependent on others for the rest of his life.  Nicholas would remain in the hospital for seven weeks.  Mom and Dad were the only ones allowed to visit and hold him.  Nick’s older brother had to wait almost two months before meeting his little brother up close and personal.

Fortunately, early intervention with physical therapy began before Nicholas even left the Evansville hospital as nurses gently moved and worked his motionless arms and legs.  After coming home, therapy continued through First Steps, a Kentucky Early Intervention Services program offered through Green River District Health Department.  This program provides services to children, birth to 3 years old with developmental delays or established risk diagnosis and who are in need of intervention.  Intervention services offered for children include evaluations and assessments and physical, speech and occupational therapies as well as developmental intervention therapy.

When he was almost one year old, Nicholas began speech therapy through the First Steps Program with a Wendell Foster’s Campus (WFC) therapist specializing in eating and swallowing challenges.  When “Miss Michelle” met Nicholas, he still had his tracheal tube in, and as others did before her, she thought he’d live with severe physical limitations.  Nick could not hold his own head up for long, and he couldn’t sit up or maintain balance without help.  He continued to have physical and speech therapies at home until he turned three, at which time he started coming to WFC’s Green Therapy Pavilion for therapy. 

Three years later, I am graced with the blessing to meet this little boy and his family during my therapy observations.  And upon meeting Nicholas, and hearing his story, I’m left scratching my head and questioning:  Could they possibly be talking about the same little boy?

In observing Nick’s physical and speech therapies, I come to better understand the power of early therapeutic intervention in helping children diagnosed with developmental issues overcome severe limitations.

In the Next Blog Entry: The Heart Thief - The entire building knows when Nicholas is ‘in the house.’. . . Nick brings in those “World’s Finest” candy bars . . . . . unleashes his inner salesman.”

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