The Definition of Success

The Definition of Success

A physical therapist would describe “success” as being able to facilitate improved functional mobility, independence and strength through the use of therapeutic innovations. Lawrence is a shining example of how physical therapy can make an impact on the activities of daily living.

Lawrence, age 2, was born prematurely. He and his twin brother were delivered via C-section at 32 weeks because of a complication called twin-to-twin transfusion. One of the twins’ systems (in this case, Lawrence’s) was doing all of the work for both. To make matters worse, he also had a condition called tricuspid atresia, a problem in which the right ventricle of his heart did not form. Lawrence’s heart, already weaker than a normal baby’s, was forced to support two babies.

Lawrence spent the first three months of his life in the hospital before his parents were allowed to bring him home. He underwent his first heart surgery at one and a half months; his second, at six months. His most recent heart surgery, the third, was one month ago—a week after his second birthday. All were considered great successes, but as with any surgery, post-operative care is critical. Because of the vulnerable state of his heart, Lawrence cannot and should not expend too much energy. In addition, he is very susceptible to infection and he must receive oxygen at all times, which means leaving his house is difficult. Anytime Lawrence goes anywhere, his oxygen tank and supplies follow.

As if his health problems were not serious enough, the bright lights and constant noise from his time in the NICU created a separate set of sensory issues. He could not tolerate being on his stomach, couldn’t sit up on his own, and had trouble with various textures that prevented him from doing things such as putting his bare feet on the carpet.

All of these complications make Lawrence a very immobile child. Unfortunately, mobile is just what he and his family must be with the constant schedule of doctors’ appointments. For this reason, they consider themselves very fortunate to be able to receive therapy in the home. Not only does this mean they are not obligated to transport Lawrence and his equipment to therapy sessions six times a week, but also do not have to expose his fragile system to the shock of the real world as often.

In-home therapy has also given Lawrence’s therapists a chance to educate the family so that they can better care for Lawrence. They have been taught exactly how to work with him so that he will continue to progress, even when the therapist is not present. After just a year of therapy, Lawrence has conquered most of his sensory issues, is standing, and will soon be walking around just like his active twin brother! This is a dream come true for everyone in Lawrence’s family.

(All client names have been changed to protect the identity of those we serve.)

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September 24, 2014