|My daughter, Vaeda Zo was born June 6, 2011. She was diagnosed with Hemiplegic Cerebral Palsy in her first year of life. Hemiplegia is similar to a stroke and in Vaeda's case the left side of her body was affected. As I learned about Cerebral Palsy what gave me hope that my daughter would someday experience running, was our brains have a tremendous ability to create new connections (neuroplasticity).
The MRI of our daughter Vaeda's brain shows that she has scar tissue on the right hemisphere, which we were told occurred as she suffered a stroke while in the womb. This brain injury means the movement on her left side is affected. Neural connections to use her left arm, hand and leg haven't been well formed during early development. Movement with attention creates these connections elsewhere in the brain so that the loss of functioning returns. In fact children with Cerebral Palsy and other developmental delays who get the help they need, have "extra"ordinary brains as they have mapped functioning to new areas of their brains to overcome their "dis-ability."
We began getting Osteopathic treatment locally right away at McKinnon Health, which immediately afterwards she began moving her left arm. Our osteopath told us about the Anat Baniel Method (ABM), and recommended the book Kid's Beyond Limits by Anat Baniel. After reading the book, we decided to take a week long trip to Halifax to get an intensive 10 lessons when Vaeda was about a year and a half old. After those lessons Vaeda began to sit up evenly without leaning to the left. After that success, I decided to take the ABM training program to become a practitioner in 2013 when Vaeda turned two years old.
At two, she had another intensive 8 lessons. At that time, her vocabulary increased and she was a very expressive chatty happy girl. She was scooting on her bum to move around. Vaeda wasn't able to crawl and was delayed walking. We advocated for increased physiotherapy and occupational therapy at the QEH from 1 appointment a month to 1 appointment every week. She progressed well during this time and began walking holding on to a walker or someone's hand. We decided to take Vaeda to the ABM Centre in California just after she turned 3 years old and she began walking on her own. After only 3 lessons with one of the best ABM practitioners in the world, instead of her left leg being out on an angle to support herself in standing as she had developed with physiotherapy, her alignment had changed to have her leg under her hips as it was on the right. Since then she has improved at a tremendous rate as her weight bearing shifted and her balance improved. She now runs, and jumps unassisted! Her left arm continues to improve as well, and she uses her arm quite well. The functioning of her left hand continues to improve, and I believe will continue to improve as I work with her as I complete my training.
We sold our house in West Royalty to downsize to a mobile home in the country to afford the training which is $35,000 USD in tuition over 4 years. I've made 8 trips to California for a period of 10 days at a time since 2013 to complete my basic training and in June of this year graduated as a Certified ABM Practitioner. I will continue on with the ABM Children's Mastery Program this fall that will require 4 more trips to California. The airfare and accommodation has taken the total investment to well over $60,000. The ABM lessons aren't currently covered by insurance companies, so the lessons Vaeda received were all out of pocket and cost close to $2500. Getting insurance companies to cover this type of neuro rehabilitation by extended health plans is something I will continue to advocate for in Canada. The advances of neuroscience support this type of rehabilitation and the outcomes have surpassed traditional methods.
The decision to take the training came from a deep desire as a mother to help my own child to have the same chances for development as any other child...and a deep passion to help other children get the same benefit and opportunities that Vaeda has. This experience has forever changed the course of my life for the better as it showed me how helping others has made such a difference in their lives that it has brought meaning to my own.