By Jamie Strickland
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This is Halyn Jean Strickland, of Roanoke Rapids, NC, and her daddy, enjoying a relaxing day at the beach. Our story begins on November 10, 2006. Halyn was born on this date at only 26 weeks gestation. She remained in the NICU from that day until February 8, 2007. She had a grade 3 IVH at birth, and she also has hydrocephalus. At 1 yr. old, she had a VP shunt inserted in her head to drain any excess cerebral spinal fluid from her head, into her abdominal cavity. She was diagnosed with spastic CP at 2 yrs. old. The CP affects her lower extremities for the most part, and slightly affects her right arm/hand as well.
From the day she came home from the hospital until her third birthday, she was fortunate to receive help from an Early Intervention Program in our area. This group helped with finding Halyn great physical, occupational, vision, and speech therapy programs. Since turning 3, she has enrolled in a special needs pre-k and kindergarten, where she continues to receive physical and vision therapy at her school.
We also incorporate physical therapy at home into her playtime. She enjoys when we lay on our backs and pretend to be in a bicycle race. This helps strengthen her legs and stretches her hamstrings. I also do my own version of hippo-therapy, by getting down on all fours and having Halyn straddle and sit on my back as I go back and forth across our living room imitating a horse. Since Halyn’s CP affects mainly her legs, her grandfather came up with an idea where the two of us would hold a broomstick in our hand and have Halyn hold on in the middle of the broomstick and carefully walk along with us. This allows Halyn to try to walk with her hands held midway of her body, rather than having her arms up in the air by holding our hands. Believe it or not, this actually does seem to help and it helps our backs too, being that we don’t have to lean over and walk along with her as she holds our hands.
Another thing that we have recently discussed was Botox treatments. We have had a consultation, but the doctor didn’t want to go forward with them at the moment and has put her on a medicine called Baclofen. She has been taking it for about 6 months now, and in my opinion, it hasn’t really helped a lot, and I am searching for another doctor that would recommend the Botox.
In addition, Halyn has a gait trainer and a wheelchair. She also wears AFOs (leg braces), and soft knee braces, called Snoopys, that keep her legs straightened out during sleep. I have also sought out others that are going through the same thing for ideas that can help improve the quality of her life, like the Cerebral Palsy Family Network. I enjoy reading the posts from others and have become friends with many.