Toronto, Ontario, Canada! There’s a clinic called Health In Motion where director Natan Gendelman, developed the LIFE (learning independent function everyday) program. We have now visited 3 times and Maggie’s progress has been wonderful! She can do so much more than before- sit up properly on the floor and is comfortable in a booster seat, on a couch or even or potty seat alone, she can crawl properly, go up and down stairs without assistance, she’s been potty trained, she can stand independently for a few seconds and her movements overall are much smoother and more controlled. We still have work to do so Maggie can reach her ultimate goal of walking into school on the first day of Kindergarten! And that’s why we are working, saving and fundraising with a goal of $30,000 by April 1st, 2015 for 3 back-to-back session at Health in Motion. We believe this chunk of time will get Maggie a long way toward her walking goal.
My (Amanda’s) mom first stumbled upon this website early 2012 and while it looked promising, we didn’t see how we could make it work. The program lasts 4 weeks and of course requires travel to Toronto. Being transparent, we also wondered if it could be much different than our course at the time and we thought we had a good thing going. In the fall of 2012, while packing for our move to Nashville, God laid it on Amanda’s heart to check into the program again, after not thinking about it since it was first brought up. We’d just had our third child who was a newborn, so the timing was no better than when we first learned of Health in Motion. After discussing things and working out logistics, we decided to go in May 2013, but they filled up before we reserved our spot. The next opening was September 30th-October 25th 2013. This was not ideal at all since Will was to start Kindergarten in August but we moved forward, having faith it would all work out. Amanda’s mom was able to get off work the first week and Will’s fall break fell the second and third weeks only leaving Maggie and Amanda by themselves the last week.
By the end of her first day/session, I already knew I wanted to bring her back and wished we didn’t wait so long to come the first time. She worked on rolling, sitting, crawling, standing and walking properly. And transitions! We learned transitioning from task to task is the most important movement to gain trunk control. And without trunk control, compensations set in, which is exactly what Maggie was doing and we were allowing before we came. Of course, all of this movement was assisted by Natan with physical and verbal cues. He told her what to do, how to do it, guided her and restrained the improper movements. But the movements themselves she was doing. It was amazing to watch, I teared up often during the first week. By day 3 he was putting her in a walker to test the waters and she did a great job.
I cancelled her wheelchair order and asked Daniel to bring her gait trainer stripped of all the supports since we couldn’t get a walker in time. By the end of the first week, Maggie was taking very good steps both in the walker and with minimal support from Natan. Maybe we can’t say, “hey, Maggie, get up and walk across the room to me” but with continued work and visits to Health in Motion, we have complete faith and confidence she will get there. Daniel, who was more skeptical than I, was excited to hear her progress over the phone and once he arrived and went to his first session, was also talking about her next visit. Daniel is not a planner. That’s how excited he was.
In no way do we feel our therapists failed us or that their efforts were in vain. We definitely feel they have been an integral part of her life and progress. They taught us how to work with her and have been a great support system. This is our next step and we absolutely feel Natan, the program he developed, and the staff at Health in Motion are a God send. We’re so grateful our little Maggie had the chance to be a part of this, and we’re looking forward to our next trip.