Medical Minute: Walking Under Water for Cerebral Palsy

Swimming, splashing, sliding; most kids love the water, and 11-year-old Sarah Grace is no different. But this is actually physical therapy. She was born more than four months premature and weighed just over one pound.

She was the smallest baby to ever survive at her hospital.

Teresa Harris, Sarah Grace's mom, said, "She literally was a miracle. Half inch shorter than a Barbie doll."

And she's has been beating the odds ever since. Sarah Grace was diagnosed with cerebral palsy at age two and is now part of a study on how an underwater treadmill can help her build up leg strength and walk better.

Don Morgan, PhD, Exercise Physiologist, said, "It's a challenge. It'd be a challenge for anybody. They're demonstrating to themselves and to their families that hey, look at what I've been able to do. I've gotten stronger. I've gotten fitter, and it's a wonderful thing to be proud of."

Dr. Don Morgan says the water resistance helps build leg muscles but doesn't strain the joints. Kids in the study have improved heart function and have more energy to walk.

Sarah Grace noticed a difference during a class trip to New York city.

Teresa Harris said, "When we went down a flight of steps to use the restroom, and when we came back up she was taking them just like me, and I was just, I couldn't believe it. I said, 'Baby, look what you're doing.'"

Sarah Grace dreams of someday becoming a nurse or teacher.

Sarah Grace Harris said, "I'm more of like an energetic person, and I mean, I will either like help people like when they need help."

And for a girl who couldn't even walk, and can now climb stairs, anything's possible.

For More Information, Contact:

Don Morgan
(615) 898-5549


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