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Pediatric Rehabilitation Helps 3-Year-Old Come a Long Way

As part of her recovery from surgeries related to spina bifida, 3-year-old Angeline receives outpatient pediatric rehabilitation through Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital to help strengthen her entire body.

June 2004 — On Wednesday, April 12, 2000, Angeline underwent her first surgery — while she was still in her mother's womb.

Angeline's mother, Emily, was only 16 weeks pregnant when she was told that her unborn daughter had spina bifida, a birth defect affecting the nervous system. The prognosis was not good: doctors suspected that Angeline would be born with significant limitations, including the inability to walk.

Thanks to her parents' faith and devotion, along with the expertise of a team of doctors at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Tennessee, Angeline and her mother underwent a cutting-edge fetal surgery that helped repair some of Angeline's nerves.

While the fetal surgery was successful in reducing the severity of her nerve damage, Angeline has undergone several additional surgeries at Memorial Regional Hospital and currently receives outpatient pediatric rehabilitation through Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital. Today, Angeline is a smiling, happy 3-year-old little girl.

Early Intervention and Dedicated Care

"Angeline and I began taking 'Yoga for the Special Child' and really benefited from the experience," says Emily. "When Angeline turned 3 and early intervention services ended, we looked to continue with physical therapy and occupational therapy at the center. Her physical therapist, Elissa Karl, is the cornerstone of her care. She works on strengthening Angeline's whole body. The results of her nerve damage mean that some nerves work and some don't. Through her therapy, Angeline is learning to compensate and use the muscles and nerves that do work."

Angeline

Emily has come to expect the utmost in care from everyone Angeline comes in contact with at Memorial Healthcare System facilities. About the team at Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital Pediatric Outpatient Rehabilitation Center, she says,"They are a group of pleasant, happy, caring and dedicated people and they, along with everyone at Memorial Regional Hospital, exceed my expectations. If they didn't, I wouldn't take Angeline there."

"Children are smart little people, and Angeline can try to wiggle her way out of doing things," says Emily. "The exercises are tough, but they're good for her, so Elissa pushes her just enough. We expect her to continue to walk with stronger ankles, stronger legs and a stronger trunk."