Gabby may have two big brothers to keep up with, but it is the world that is going to have to keep up with her. Only three years old, Gabby has been through a lot, yet nothing seems to slow her down.
New Berlin residents Sara and Brian adopted Gabby at birth, along with her biological older brother, CJ. Both children suffer from a genetic disease that contributes to developmental, speech, and cognitive delays.
Gabby was born premature and spent three months in the neonatal intensive care unit. In her first six months of life, Gabby underwent three heart surgeries, one of which led to complications requiring her foot to be partially amputated.
“We made it work,” said Sara. But Gabby’s parents knew that their growing family would need special support.
Gabby started physical therapy with the United Way-funded Birth-to-Three program at Curative Care Network when she was just five months old. Her Curative physical therapist helped Gabby adjust to tummy time and worked to strengthen her muscles so she could sit up and crawl.
“Gabby’s therapy was amazing,” remembered Sara. “The therapist got Gabby to do things we never thought possible, and gave us suggestions for how to continue the work to strengthen her muscles at home.”
“Before they’re old enough for school, the way kids learn best is by doing and exploring,” said Jim McLaughlin, United Way’s education portfolio manager. “With Curative’s help, Gabby is learning how to do just that, so that when she finally starts school, she’ll be able to get around just like her classmates to play and learn.”
Of children who participated in United Way-funded support for children and families programs, 90% showed signs of improvement in motor skills and 93% showed signs of improvement in cognitive skills.
“Our approach to therapy through the Birth-to-Three program is truly driven by the parents and family life,” said Sandra Modahl, senior director of therapy services at Curative Care. “The goals we set for Gabby were to develop her gross motor skills so that she could be an active part of her very active family.”
Curative speech therapist, Melissa, helped Gabby with communication and feeding. “Our goal is to provide the therapy the child needs, not just what is covered by insurance,” said Sandra. “United Way funding helps us accept every child and get them the therapy they need to meet their goals.”
One year after starting therapy with Curative Care Network, Gabby started to pull herself up on furniture, supported her weight on both legs, and began talking.
Even after having a full foot amputation, Gabby's progress barely skipped a beat. Less than eight weeks after surgery, Gabby began walking independently with the use of a prosthesis.
These days, 3-year-old Gabby loves playing basement hockey and “doing homework” with her older brothers Will, 10, and CJ, 4. “She is sassy and spunky,” says Sara. “She loves to wrestle and jump right in on whatever her brothers are doing.”
“She’s amazing,” says Sara. “She’s a miracle in every sense of the word.”
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