Helping Kids Be Anything They Want to Be

Arta - World Cerebral Palsy Day

When Arta grows up she wants to be a teacher. The grade seven student isn’t going to let the fact that she has cerebral palsy (CP) stop her.

Since she was an infant, Arta has struggled to move and get around on her own. Arta was born prematurely at 30 weeks gestation and suffered a traumatic birth that caused damage to parts of her brain, leading to cerebral palsy.

As Arta grew and developed, she required assistive devices to help her move. She wore ankle-foot orthotics, had a lift on her shoes, and wore twister cables (which attached at the waist and connected to her orthotics). Surgery was recommended. To determine the best course of action, Arta visited the Gait Lab at Thames Valley Children’s Centre. Through the use of electrodes and special cameras, doctors could see exactly how she moved, and what adjustments were needed to help her walk with ease.

“Before the Gait Lab, one doctor had only seen her in his office, walking up and down the hallway. With the lab’s electrodes, you can see a range of motion, pressure and exactly how she is compensating movement due to limitations on the left side,” shares mom, Christina, noting that Arta walked back and forth 63 times, with and without assistive devices, giving a clear picture of her abilities.

In March 2016, Drs. Megan Cashin and Tim Carey at Children’s Hospital, London Health Sciences Centre performed a six hour surgery on Arta based on the analysis they saw in the Gait Lab. The surgery meant Arta no longer needed the twister cables or lifts in her shoes. She can now walk barefoot and put her heel down, which she couldn’t do before, as well as navigate stairs more efficiently.

While she was in the hospital, a nurse with CP came to speak to Arta and gave some inspiring words. “[She] told her ‘I had this [surgery] too a long time ago and now I’m a nurse!’ which was really great because she was someone Arta could relate to, and for Arta, that was a really big thing,” says Christina. “Some people say she’ll never be able to teach and I say - well, why not? You can be anything you want!”

Arta uses the Gait Lab at TVCCArta has continued to progress since her surgery. One year later, she went back to the Gait Lab to see how her body was doing and her physiotherapist was very happy with her movement post-surgery.

October 6 is World Cerebral Palsy Day. Together, we can help kids like Arta reach their full potential, whether it be becoming a teacher or whatever passion they seek.