Extending the Reach
When Diego was born 15 weeks prematurely in March 2005, his parents spent two and a half months making the three-hour round trip from their home in Dumfries, Va. to Virginia Commonwealth University’s Children’s Medical Center in Richmond. So when Diego was discharged from the hospital but still required outpatient therapy, his mom, Natalia, was thrilled to find Children’s Hospital of Richmond’s Fredericksburg Therapy Center, only 45 minutes from her home.
Children’s Hospital of Richmond’s Fredericksburg Therapy Center opened in May 2003 offering physical, occupational and speech therapy three days a week. By August, services had expanded to five days a week, and in early 2004, physician specialists began treating patients at the Center. The demand for therapy services continued to skyrocket, prompting the Fredericksburg Therapy Center to move to new space in January 2007.
“Fredericksburg has experienced a very large growth of population,” said Sallie Tidman, OT/L, Director of Therapy Services, in reference to the Center’s rapid growth. “We’ve also done a lot with physicians, parents and the community in terms of medical education and developmental awareness about the role therapy can play in improving children’s lives.”
Because of complications during pregnancy, Diego, who weighed less than two pounds at birth, had his left leg amputated when he was one week old. He also developed torticollis, a tightening of the neck muscles, which caused his head to become flat on one side. When Diego had his first physical therapy appointment with Ryan Lockwood, MS, PT, CSCS, Ryan focused on exercises to relax Diego’s neck muscles and increase range of motion in the three-month-old’s leg. During the weekly sessions, Ryan also provided exercises Diego’s family could practice at home.
“Diego’s family is awesome,” said Ryan. “From day one, his mom has done everything I’ve asked of her. And his dad is full of energy.”
As Diego grew, Ryan worked with him to meet developmental milestones like rolling over and crawling and has helped him learn to use his prosthetic leg, which Diego first received when he was nine months old. Ryan monitors Diego’s growth to be sure his prosthesis fits properly and helps him adjust to a new one approximately every nine months.
While Diego met most developmental milestones on time, he was slow to start walking. Since he started walking last October, it’s been hard to slow the energetic three-year-old down.
“One of the best things I ever saw was when Diego started walking on his own,” recalled Ryan, who refers to Diego as a “little fireball.” “He just lit up. He was so ready. You could see how proud he was.”
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