Less than two months after beginning therapies at the West Therapy Center, Jessica said Tristian was eating without a feeding tube, no longer needed a tracheotomy for breathing and was walking unassisted. His weekly physical therapy sessions continue to focus on increasing his balance and strength while speech therapy works to improve his ability to swallow and eat more solid foods. To keep him motivated, Tristian’s therapists incorporate games and jokes into his hour-long, weekly sessions.
“Tristian loves playing tricks on me,” said Lindsey Rogich, PT, DPT. “He loves talking about football, joking and having fun. If I play a game or race, he loves to be involved.”
Lindsey includes jumping and climbing, riding a bicycle and playing with the Nintendo Wii in his physical therapy sessions. She also provides exercises Tristian can do at home and said Jessica’s commitment to completing them has been important to his progress. Lindsey’s goal is for him to “get back to a point where he can play and keep up with his peers.”
As his speech language pathologist, Anna Holzbach, MS, CF-SLP, incorporates board games like Connect Four or Trouble into Tristian’s therapy sessions, alternating game time with oral motor exercises.
“He definitely has to put in his hard work,” commented Anna, who wants Tristian to reach his goal of eating his favorite pizza. “Keeping him motivated is important. He’s been through so much.”
Having a Ball
Before Tristian could get out of bed, he was throwing a ball around his hospital room with Jessica and his dad, Justin. Now tossing his favorite gold glitter ball is part of his physical therapy, helping to improve his strength, coordination and balance.
“He’s been very good throughout all this,” remarked Jessica, who loves the new speech treatment rooms and the expanded space at the West Therapy Center. “He really likes it when Lindsey and Anna joke with him.”
Jessica said Tristian likes going to the West Therapy Center and appreciates how his therapists let him select the games he wants to play each week. One of his favorite activities involves sitting on a scooter and pulling himself around the therapy space.
“I want him to be able to ride bikes and four-wheelers, jump and be the way he used to be,” said Jessica of her second-grade son. “He’s playing with other kids now, walking up steps without holding on, trying to run and going outside and playing by himself.”
Because Tristian, who traveled to Texas with his family in October to meet the Dallas Cowboys, is receiving his second round of chemotherapy, he has days where he is less active. On the more active days, he tries to keep up with his six- and eight-year-old stepbrothers and watches out for his four-year-old sister.
“The therapists go out of their way for the children to have fun,” said Diane McCormick, one of Tristian’s home health nurses. “They make it a pleasant experience for the children.”
“It’s been really cool to watch Tristian rebound so well,” remarked Anna. “He’s met a lot of goals already and has been quite the trooper.”
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