Interviewee: Mom, Cristina

Daughter: Savvy, Age 4, Spastic Quadriplegic Cerebral Palsy

Main Goal: To improve her core strength, sit independently, crawl, and eventually walk

What were things like when you first started working with Breakthrough?

C- When I first started here I was looking for her to really build that core strength so shed be able to sit up, crawl and eventually walk. Her doctor told us about this type of therapy. We didnt know if we would find it so we put it on the back burner and then our occupational therapist from Early Intervention told us about this place specifically because she had somebody coming here. She was raving about it and all the great work that Christine does, at the time it was only Christine, so thats why we called Cher and came for an assessment. Savvy was hysterical the first 2 times because it is hard work for her. She didnt have that core strength and Christine just kept saying, "well keep trying, shell do fine, shes really a great candidate for this" and eventually Savvy just kind of took to her.  I think it was like 3 or 4 sessions and now every time we come here shes saying shes ready when we get to the door, shes excited, shes smiling. First when we were at home wed have to prop her up with pillows and blankets so she could sit up on her own and we could play games but after coming here she can sit for almost 16 minutes independently, and if she goes to fall she does bring herself back up and thats all because of Breakthrough.

What improvements have you seen?

C- Just with her ability to do more. She holds a cup to drink and I think that's because of the stamina she now has from being here. Shell try to pick up a fork to eat something. To sit in her chair alone and Im not saying to her to keep her head up or to put her head down when shes eating. Shes not falling anymore in the chair. I think that from being here she is able to sit up and do more and I can see long term that she will be able to do a few more things herself.  Well the good thing is that she can do these things. Before this therapy you kind of doubt what shed be able to do. So with the therapy it helps us see all the things that you guys think she can do and then do it.  Like for example, Christine put her on the treadmill one time and I didnt think she could do that but she took like 20 steps on the treadmill - I mean shes hooked up to the bungees and what not, but I mean who would have thought she could do that. It gives us hope that she will be able to do more and improve her daily living skills.

What do you love most about coming to Breakthrough?

C- Well not even just the therapy, everyone here is so friendly and helpful. The transition from hiring - there's new staff members actually everywhere here between the office staff and therapists - Savvy transitioned really well with them and I wasnt expecting that. She usually gets upset with anything new so I think  everyone being friendly and helpful and her seeing that helped.

How has working with Breakthrough improved Savvys' confidence?

C- I think her confidence has improved greatly.  For her to come here and want to work and want to do physical therapy which is extremely difficult for her to do. I have seen a great improvement with her confidence. Shes even talking more, when we first started she only had 3 or 4 words. Christine encourages her! Every time they laugh, they have a great time and Savvy tries to repeat what she has said.  So not only is it helping her with her physical development, it's helping with her core strength and her ability to use her language and talk.

What would you want other parents like you to know?

C- That it's a really innovative and new approach to physical therapy. It's not only the bungees and the therasuit, it's also your regular therapy. But I think that the take they have on it here, theyre so positive, they praise the kids and they really work hard to get them to work hard, that's how you see the results. Just keeping with it. I think all the praise and encouragement is really what keeps Savvy motivated and happy to be here and work.

If someone was hesitant about working with us, what would you want them to know?C- I think that you really have to come in and try it and see for yourself. To not be on the fence about it? Maybe talk to parents like myself about it, to give our stories and share our experiences. And if youre going to try it, try it a few times. If we had given up, we wouldnt be where we are today.  We really had to stick it through, quite a few weeks I doubted coming as well, but now looking back Im glad that we did because she has made so many gains in her abilities.  To sit, to crawl, to take steps with a walker, she wouldnt have been able to do that if I gave up.