Schreiber Pediatric Center - Scotty Chappell adjusting to life 'untethered'

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March 15, 2017

Scotty Chappell adjusting to life 'untethered'

Posted by Dan  Permalink 

Scotty Chappell grimaced as he tried to grip the green putty as hard as he could.

"Squeeze as tight as you can -- that's right, tighter!" Laura Cunningham said to 4-year-old Scotty as he crushed the putty.

Scotty grunted as he continued to squeeze, and as soon as he saw the putty bulging out between his fingers, a large smile covered his face.

"All right, good job!" said Laura, Scotty's occupational therapist. "Now, can you do it again?"

Schreiber OT Laura Cunningham, left, guides Scott Chappell as he does a climbing exercise during a recent therapy session. Scott's mother Tracy Chappell helps spot. Scott is much more confident climbing since he started at Schreiber.

Scotty was born with a tethered spinal cord, meaning his spinal cord was attached to the tissue surrounding the spine, allowing little room for the spinal cord to move without causing discomfort or pain. At the age of 3, Scott had surgery to "untether" the spinal cord so it could move more freely and grow normally.

Starting about three months ago, Scotty began receiving occupational therapy here at Schreiber. Scotty's mother, Tracy, said the family's main goal with Scotty was to improve the fine motor skills he lacked as a result of his birth condition.

Scotty typically fears trying new things related to his physical senses. The first time he tried to use the ladder in Schreiber's indoor OT gym brought him to tears because of anxiety. Today he confidently climbs with no hesitation.

Tracy has seen noticeable advancements in Scotty's muscle strength and hand-eye coordination since he started at Schreiber. Through a number of activities involving strength, balance and aim, Scotty is no longer using his entire body to cross his midline to accomplish minor tasks, such as throwing a bean bag through a target hole or picking up something placed behind him. Fun-loving and emotional, Scotty always looks forward to spending time with Laura at Schreiber.

Laura and Scott do some wall push-ups together to improve Scott's upper-body strength and sensory-processing skills.

"All the therapists go above and beyond to make sure each kid in our family is involved," Tracy said. She said her time at Schreiber has become a family experience. Scott's sister, Ella, 6, has autism and has received therapy here, too. Tracy, who lives in Elizabethtown, said having the whole family feel so involved enhances their experiences.

During Scotty's sessions, Tracy closely watched what the therapists do so she can use the same techniques at home. For example, she can now monitor how Scotty holds a pencil or uses scissors, so for the next week's session he can be an expert.

Whether it's squeezing putty, climbing a ladder, or swinging on the indoor equipment, Scotty is always prepared to progress in a fun and playful environment. And Laura is right there with him.

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Are you particularly grateful for the work of a Schreiber therapist? You can show your appreciation by making a small monthly donation in their honor. Just visit our DonateNow page here to set up your recurring gift. And be sure to include a dedication note as you fill out the online donation form. Questions? Call the Financial Development Office at 717-393-0425 ext. 105.

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