A child taking his or her first footsteps is a milestone parents watch for eagerly, and for most, it comes within the first nine to 18 months of a child’s life.
But the timing is not the same for all children. For some, it might takes years; for others, those first steps might never come.
For Charlie, of Wheaton, his first six years of life pointed him in the direction of his first steps.
Charlie began intensive daily therapy with Easter Seals DuPage and the Fox Valley Region. After six years with Easters Seals, where he always had been carried or wheeled in, Charlie said to his mom, “I think I’m going to walk today.”
“Everyone noticed right away that this young boy (who we all know and love) was walking into Easter Seals for the first time on his own,” Easter Seals parent liaison Sharon Pike said. “We all got up and rushed over to cheer him on. There wasn’t a dry eye in the place!”
Later that day as he headed home, Charlie told his mom, “I really impressed them today didn’t I?”
According to a release from Easter Seals DuPage and the Fox Valley Region, Charlie was born at 24 weeks, weighing only 1 pound, 15 ounces. He spent his first 97 days in a neonatal intensive care unit. He had a long list of medical issues such as spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy, hydrocephalus, intestinal and respiratory issues, and bilateral brain hemorrhages.
“When our son Charlie was born, the prognosis was not bright,” said Tracy Krupka, Charlie’s mom. “We didn’t know what his future would be like. As an occupational therapist myself, I knew that the best place for Charlie to get help would be Easter Seals DuPage and the Fox Valley Region.”
Wikipedia defines spastic quadriplegia as a spasticity of the limbs as opposed to strict paralysis. The release states that it is distinguishable from other forms of cerebral palsy in that those afflicted with the condition display stiff, jerky movements. As a result, even though Charlie made progress in therapy at Easter Seals, the spasticity was holding him back from walking.
“When he was a baby, doctors told us that Charlie probably wouldn’t walk,” Krupka said. “At some point we just accepted that our son would probably spend most of his life in a wheel chair. When Charlie turned 3 years old, we had ramps installed in our house and bought him a power wheelchair.”
Last year, the Krupka family began investigating a 20-year-old surgical technique known as selective dorsal rhivotomy, which helps reduce spastic movements and can help people gain the ability to walk.
But Charlie’s dad, Michael Krupka, said it was a hard decision. Charlie was making progress in therapy, but uncertainty remained whether he would ever walk. Yet opinions on the surgical technique are mixed. “We knew the surgery had major risks, however, with the surgery Charlie could become a functional walker.”
Charlie and his family made the decision to proceed with the surgery.
Post-surgery therapy was critical, the Krupkas said. “The way that Easter Seals has worked with Charlie day-in and day-out, it has helped him to become able to walk and walking has given him so much more self-confidence in school and in life,” Mrs. Krupka said.
SOURCE: Easter Seals DuPage and the Fox Valley Region
Easter Seals DuPage and the Fox Valley Region
- Phone: 1-630- 620-4433
- Email: email@example.com
- Website: www.eastersealsdfvr.org