Physical Therapy + exercise will forever be part of Finley’s routine. It’s a way of life. She has been in weekly therapies since she was 3 months old. I believe a lot of her progress is due to this diligence and focus. It would 1,000% have been easier to just hear her diagnosis and accept it instead of choosing the path to FIGHT it. Our hope was always to somehow "overcome" Cerebral Palsy. Through the last few years we have been able to conquer huge hurdles- Finley surely didn't allow CP to hold her back. I will admit though, those early days watching her struggle to sit, watching her drool excessively while trying to maintain control of her fine motor skills, it was really hard. Our biggest infancy triumph was getting her to suck the pacifier while play with a toy. (I'm pretty sure thats why I let her keep the pacifier until she was 3.5 years old. Hey! Don't Judge me, lol. That Pacifier was GLORIOUS! I miss it. #RIPPACI). This seemingly simple task of 'sucking a pacifier' took MONTHS of hard work and focus. As a special needs parent, your mind is constantly battling two mentalities: “don’t push her too hard, she’s frustrated” vs. “She CAN and she WILL!” These two contradicting themes run strong in my mind to this very day. I try to mute the little voice in my head that mutters the word “can’t.” While we maintain a household that doesn’t allow that in the vocabulary, I’m human. I always default to wanting things to be easy for my daughter. I do see the beauty in the struggle and I KNOW that it makes her stronger. BUT I also see the tears, the frustration, and the defeat. It’s heart braking.
Finley got to the point where she would take a few independent steps in a row. I have always believed that Intensive Therapies are great for someone that is close to a overcoming a hurdle. Finley just needed a push to get over the hump. I took my search to GOOGLE & Support groups to find some well-known places and only found a few within the US. After traveling across the country for the SDR surgery in 2016, it only made sense that we would have to travel again for something this monumental. Meaning, when it’s expensive (upwards of $800) you travel for the BEST- because, its WORTH IT.
We planned a visit to “Walk this Way” in Texas, on account of them being loosely affiliated with Dr. Park and the SDR. Sadly, the week we were supposed to be there was a few weeks after Hurricane Harvey hit, I cancelled because we didn’t know if the airport would be open or not- we rescheduled for a few months later. My heart still goes out to all that were effected by this tragedy - it’s absolutely horrible. I’m not going to get into too many details because 'bashing' a business is not in my character; I will briefly say this: The few correspondence we had with them made me feel as though it was totally worth forgoing the “paid in full” week of Intensive therapy.
Then we were going to attend Napa Center in LA a few months later, and that week Finley came down with croup AND pneumonia (yeah, REAL fun week in our house). We are currently working out a reschedule with them. I really want to see their equipment and have Fin experience their methods. I’ve heard great things!
I was telling her therapists at Leaps & bounds about our pursuit of Intensive Therapy and candidly trying to be positive about how it must just NOT be in our cards. Finley has been a patient at L&B since she was 18 months old, so naturally I’ve developed a good relationship with them and am comfortable voicing my grievances and concerns. They told me they would be happy to customize an intensive plan for Finley and assured me that although thats not what their clinic is “known for” they very much offer it. I was floored! We set up a week long session right away. I chose to only focus on PT for this, since independent walking is our current goal.
The sessions were three hours each day. 2 hours in clinic, 1 hour on the Horse in Equine Assisted Therapy a.k.a. Hippotherapy. We had such a great experience that I feel compelled to write about it! THE VIDEO SPEAKS FOR ITSLEF YOU GUYS!!!!! HIGHLY recommend!!
At the end of the week, Finley was able to walk 40 INDEPENDENT STEPS! We are sooooooooooo beyond glad we chose to do therapy with her trusted therapists! Seeing Finley’s JOY and how proud she was of herself was enough to make my heart burst. I still CRY thinking about it. Can't wait for our next Intensive Session there.