With her bright yellow walker, infectious smile, and fearless ambitions, 5 year old Caitlin Mauk, pushes herself through the sliding doors at Easterseals Capper Foundation every week, ready to take on the world.
In the fall of 2015, Caitlin began her journey with Easterseals Capper Foundation, receiving Occupational Therapy (OT) and Physical Therapy (PT). She shared, “I do a lot of walking and I play.”
Caitlin was born prematurely at 28 ½ weeks and weighed less than two-pounds. A CT scan showed Caitlin had dead spots in her brain, leading to her diagnosis of Spastic Diplegia Cerebral Palsy. This affects the legs and arms, making them stiff and contracted, causing crawling and walking difficulties. For some children they are never able to walk.
Caitlin's father, Joseph Mauk recalls, "As much as you don’t want that for your child, the fact that she was going to pull through and be able to survive over-shadowed everything.”
For children, therapy often looks like play, but in reality they are learning every day skills needed to be self-sufficient. Kasha Rebant, Occupational Therapist, explains, “The goal is for Caitlin to be independent. We want her to be independent at home, at school and in play skills. To improve her fine motor skills, we work with her hands a lot. For example, we might work on stringing beads, so she can ultimately use those skills to button her shirt or to tie her shoes.”
Due to the brain injury that has occurred, children with Cerebral Palsy tend to have weaker muscles. As a result, Caitlin is unable to fully stand on her own or to straighten her knees completely. For this reason, Kim Coker, Physical Therapist, mainly focuses on strengthening muscles and balancing. During therapy, electrodes are placed on Caitlin’s quads, helping her straighten her legs. She is getting stronger to where she can stand taller and keep her knees straighter.
When Caitlin first started physical therapy it would take her over two minutes to walk using arm crutches from the lobby to her therapy room. Now, she has progressed to doing it in less than 30 seconds! As she's gotten stronger, she's been able to walk faster, which makes her more efficient, so at school she can get around better.
Kim shared, "If this were your kid, would you want them to get everything they could possibly get to be as independent as they could be? That's what it's all about, the individual kids! Helping children like Caitlin achieve more and to be able to go out in their life and do more!"
When Kasha began working with Caitlin, her dad was helping her with everything from putting her socks and shoes on, to getting dressed in the morning. She needed assistance with all self-help tasks and needed to improve different fine motor skills. Now, Caitlin has met all of her goals and on May 8, 2017 she graduated from Occupational Therapy!
Kasha shared, “I love to see people thrive. Caitlin has taught me so much, from pursuing and being motivated to try new things. She is an incredibly hard working little girl. She’s had a lot of trials growing up, but she’s never given up and that’s what I love to see about her!"
Joseph knows Caitlin has a long road ahead of her but has no doubt she will one day be able to walk independently. "It was a milestone for her to just get a normal baby crawl, so to see her running down the hall. It's been amazing seeing how she has progressed since starting services here. It just shows how much potential I know she has and to one day not need that walker or any assistance at all." Caitlin added, "Thank you for helping me!"
We believe every person with a disability should be given the support they need to participate fully in life and achieve their dreams. Caitlin hopes to one day be a police officer so she can help others too! For now, she continues making incredible improvements every day and receives physical therapy because of your wonderful support of Easterseals Capper Foundation.
Thank you for helping us make profound, positive differences in people's lives every day. Our services would not be possible without the extraordinary support from friends like you.
There are many more individuals who need our services, so please consider a generous contribution to help others like Caitlin, participate fully in life and achieve their dreams to be all they can be. Your support makes such a positive impact and you will feel good about giving.
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