For busy working parents like Amy and Cory Smith of Green Cove Springs, getting simple things done like laundry or having dinner ready on the table every night can be tough enough to squeeze in after long workdays. But when you add a child with special needs to the mix, keeping the many pediatric specialty doctor visits and pediatric therapy appointments you’ve got on the calendar can be a logistical challenge.
When the Smiths’ daughter Allie was born in 2009, she was exposed to group B strep (GBS), which caused her to contract a bacterial infection of the sac surrounding her brain and spinal cord. She spent her first several weeks at Wolfson Children’s Hospital where her infection led to hydrocephalus, a condition that causes head swelling from a build-up of fluid in the brain. Thankfully, Allie survived but the pressure on her brain resulted in cerebral palsy, and extremely limited use of her right side.
Living in Green Cove Springs, the Smiths were a good 45 minutes away from downtown Jacksonville and the Drew Bradbury Center, the main location for Wolfson Children’s Rehabilitation Services.
Wolfson Children’s Rehab, which used to offer pediatric rehabilitation services at another location in Fleming Island. So when Allie turned six months old, she was able to begin a regimen of physical therapy there. In September 2013, the Clay County location of Wolfson Children’s Rehab relocated permanently to the new Wolfson Children’s Specialty Center at Baptist Clay Medical Campus. That not only made the drive a little more direct from Green Cove Springs, but also provided the additional benefits of having some pediatric specialty physicians and the Wolfson Children’s ER at Clay, all in the same place.
“Having these services closer to our home is so much more convenient, and it’s helped us keep up with her appointments, which has helped tremendously with her progress,” says Amy.
Allie, now 5, receives ongoing therapy from a trio of pediatric rehabilitation specialists – Peggy Glantz, PT, who provides physical therapy to improve Allie’s muscle strength and movement range; Sara Werner, ST, who helps with the development of her speech, language and communications skills; and Nikki Hallick, OT, who works with Allie on fine motor development to accomplish daily skills like opening things, feeding and dressing herself. All three have worked with her from a few months to several years, and all agree that she has blossomed.
The key, says Hallick, is to find a balance of play and work that challenges her, using compromise to keep her motivated through three different, targeted types of therapy. Working with her on her ability to communicate and express herself after her brain injury created a speech disorder also has been pivotal in her ongoing development. Allie uses a specialized one-arm drive wheelchair to get around, which helps increase her mobility.
“Parents have told us that this is some of the best success they have seen with their kids, especially long-term patients, because of our consistent and intense training modalities and because we focus only on children,” says Hallick. “Also, having us available in Fleming Island is a huge benefit to Clay and Putnam County families, not only because of the array of services we offer, but also the convenience factor.”
Offering the same level of children’s rehabilitative service to families in Clay County as is provided by the pediatric physical, occupational and speech therapists at Wolfson Children’s Rehabilitation is a huge plus, and makes a difference in the lives of many families like the Smiths. For them, it has been extremely valuable in the life of their little girl.
“Allie is a very joyful, loving child,” says Amy, “and she’s improving tremendously.”
If you would like to read or leave a review about Wolfson Children’s Hospital, visit our Around Town Directory below.
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