When four-year-old Jeffery Brothers squats to pick up a toy and rises to hand it to his mom, it’s cause for applause. Those simple actions were impossible earlier this year.
“He fell down a flight of 13 steps,” his mother, Susan Brothers of Round Mountain, said.
Jeffery already had some health issues from birth that predisposed him to injury, and the fall seemed to make matters much worse. Jeffery developed blood clots in his head and underwent a series of surgeries over a span of 35 days in an Austin hospital. “We almost lost him twice,” Mrs. Brothers said. “He’s had a rough time.”
Following his discharge from the hospital, Mrs. Brothers brought her son to the new pediatric rehabilitation program at Hill Country Memorial Hospital’s outpatient rehab department. That first visit didn’t go so well.
“He could hardly walk, and his right side was weak,” said HCMH physical therapist Karen Sweet. “He had trouble with his speech, with swallowing and with motor skills. He was also exhausted from the long hospital stay.”
HCMH speech therapist Candace Ibbotson remembered that first visit. “He cried for two hours,” she said. “Thank goodness his mom was here. But each succeeding visit was better.”
Although the therapists work one-on-one with Jeffery, they often team up during treatments that are skillfully disguised as play time. Mrs. Brothers said the results are obvious. “He’s done great with his speech,” she said. “We couldn’t understand him at all two months ago, and now his words are clear. His swallowing has really improved, too, and we walk a quarter of a mile every day at home.”
Other improvements include eating, chewing, lip closure, word formation, sensory and motor skills, strength and listening skills. In fact, Jeffery has made enough progress that he will be able to enroll in the Stonewall Head Start Program this month.
As the youngster scaled a climbing wall at the rehab facility, the therapists called out encouragement. “Good job, Jeffery,” Ms. Sweet said as Jeffery reached the top of the wall. Ms. Ibbotson, smiling widely, applauded. “We have fallen in love with this young man,” she said.
Admission to the pediatric rehab program is by physician referral and is open to children from birth to 17 years. For more information, call 830-997-1357.