Interviewee: Mom, Cheryl

Daughter: Ella, Age 4, Congenital Vertical Talus

Main Goal: To navigate beyond the school. To navigate life. I want her to maximize whatever her full potential is and get the most out of her life.

Could you describe what things were like when Ella first started working with Breakthrough?

Ella is 4 years old and at birth she presented with congenital vertical talus, which meant that both of her feet were deformed and in a very very stiff position with really no mobility at all.  When Ella came in to Breakthrough, she had already had a couple of years under her belt of physical therapy through Early Intervention and now through our school district.  By age 3, she took her first steps so obviously those therapies helped her, but she had poor posture.  She stood kind of bent over.  She fell a lot and was unable to engage in age-appropriate play with other kids her age.  When she would fall, sometimes to catch her balance, she would grab onto other kids.  A couple of times she fell on top of other kids and at 4 years old, most children perceive that as pushing and aggression and they no longer want to play with that child.  I feel that Ella is very capable of having friendships.  She is very cognitively aware and sharp and wants to be friends with other kids.  

What kinds of improvements have you been able to see as a result of working with Breakthrough?

Most notably her posture has changed dramatically.  She is able to walk for longer periods of time.  She falls significantly less.  She's able to navigate our environment at home and is just able to do more without having as many falls.  Playgrounds are still a little tricky for her, but she is able to handle stairs better.  Prior to starting at Breakthrough, she was using her hands to pull her up the steps.  Now she's actually engaging her leg muscles to do that.  I also noticed that her speech improved.  She was very talkative, but it was difficult to understand what she was saying and she really couldn't engage in a two-way conversation.  I found that since doing the intensive program, Ella has been better able to communicate.  She can stand still for longer without feeling like she's off balance so that's helped her tremendously.  Overall, I'm just noticing a great deal of improvement. 

What do you love most about visiting our office and working with Breakthrough?

It's just been a great experience overall.  When we were trying to get started with grants and apply for some funding for Ella to receive the intensive program, Breakthrough was very helpful with letters and whatever I needed to help Ella.  I always felt very comfortable asking questions and discussing my concerns.  How far do you push?  When do you pull back?  I think that's kind of a fuzzy line.  When you're out and about and you child starts to feel pain, how do you know where the breaking point is?  I got a lot of good guidance.  I also really love that my whole family has been impacted here.  My older daughters have attended the sibling workshops and I think for them that was really important to meet other children who have siblings with significant needs.  Of course the parent workshops that are offered here are great.  It's nice to feel supported.

What would you want other people to know about working with Breakthrough PT?

This is very different than Early Intervention and school based therapy.  You want your child to be able to navigate the school, however, I really wanted Ella to navigate beyond the school.  I want her to navigate life.  I want her to maximize whatever her full potential is.  I want to know that when Ella is my age, she's not going to be disabled.  I want her to get the most out of her life.  I just feel that the equipment and Christine's knowledge combined is like nothing you could ever imagine.  Just working on very basic things-- they add on to each other.  You can't run before you crawl and that's what it's really about.

If someone was on the fence about working with us, what would make them feel more confident about giving us a try?

Christine's knowledge and the types of equipment that are used here really promote the best outcome for your child.  This a very warm environment here at Breakthrough.  They're very easy to work with and very supportive overall.  Intensive physical therapy is different from anything else we've ever tried for Ella.  At Breakthrough, the whole family is considered.  It's great when you can come to a place and get the support that not only your child needs, but that you and your family need.