Bella


Out beyond ideas of wrong-doing and right-doing there is a field. I’ll meet you there.”
– Rumi

bella1a

This is what I call SUCCESS!

I was inspired to compose my thoughts soon after receiving this photo and comment from a mom who had recently left my care and relocated in another state.

“Look at that running gait!! Pretty awesome. And who would have thought she’d be chasing Olivia?” She wrote.

The hours, days, and years that went into this spontaneous, natural moment of big sister chasing little sister through the grass on a warm summer day, were not lost on me.

I first met Bella at age 2 1/2, and Julie, her Mom, when they relocated from there home in the Sierras because Bella needed to be at sea level in order to manage her pulmonary hypertension. Bella was oxygen dependent, underweight and experiencing global delays.

Bella had already had reconstructive craniofacial surgery to correct her synostosis, as well as corrective eye surgery. He diagnosis also included reflux, tracheal leukomalacia, torticollis and an enlarged heart.

Bella had been seen for physical therapy though a local Early Intervention program in Nevada. When I asked mom what type of activities they were doing she mentioned things like throwing a ball and sitting on a bench. I imagine this treatment program was developed based on a standardized test that was given to Bella. But Bella required a program that truly addressed all the underlying issues that prevented her from catching a ball or sitting on a bench.

We began an intensive program that included PT twice a week. Her sessions of hands-on PT focused on addressing her need for improved biomechanical alignment as well as improving her proprioceptive awareness and modulation of her tone. Like many children with low muscle tone, Bella had difficulty with gradation of muscle action and poor postural control.

We created a visual schedule for our sessions showing a list of what would occur during the session and when. This gave Bella a bit of control over the session. She needed to engage with me and learn to trust in the process. We must have used every piece of equipment I have in the clinic including the Cage (link here), the Pilates Reformer and anything that would serve my purpose and inspire Bella.

As you may imagine, I was not the only one on Bella’s team. Over the 3-year period, she also had oral motor therapy, speech and language therapy, OT, pediatric acupuncture, play therapy and a social learning group.

In the final weeks of working with Bella, Julie and I were able to review the progress her daughter made. I said to Julie, “this was a real head-down situation and you rocked it!” Julie knew exactly what I meant because she is a trained/licensed pediatric psychologist and is well acquainted with the time and consistency required for that kind of transformation and realize the potential that is seen, but not yet manifested.

In the photo, Bella is running with her sister, just like any other 6-year old would. I alone can’t take credit for Bella’s progress, as it required the grit and determination of her team, especially on the part of Julie/Mom, who was the captain of our ship.

Smooth sailing Bella!

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