Schreiber Pediatric Center - Sophia Robles Finds Hope at Schreiber

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June 30, 2016

Sophia Robles Finds Hope at Schreiber

Posted by Dan  Permalink 

When Malexi Robles noticed something unusual about her daughter's movements, she called Early Intervention for an evaluation. They referred her to the S. June Smith Center, where Sophia received weekly therapy appointments from the age of three months. The Center recognized the signs of cerebral palsy early, but they had to wait until she was 2 years old to give her an official diagnosis.

Amber Sullenberger, physical therapist at Schreiber, encourages Sophia to exercise her muscles.

Since the disease affected Sophia's legs, she compensated by pulling herself around with her arms and hands. This built strength in her upper body, but from the waist down she was extremely stiff. Her muscles were so tight that she couldn't roll over until she was a year old, and she needed the assistance of a walker to get around at the age of 2.

The June Smith Center recommended that the Robles bring Sophia to Schreiber Pediatric for more intense therapy.

At Schreiber, Sophia grew socially, as well as physically.

"When we first came to Schreiber, she wouldn't go near people," her mother said. "She would start screaming and wouldn't leave my side."

As Sophia became comfortable with the surroundings at the Center, she started to relax and open up. Now she responds with a sweet engaging smile to those who talk with her.

Physical therapy was also a challenge at first.

"I tried to stay with her during the therapy sessions," Her mother recalled, "but she was resisting and crying out for me, and it was too hard for me to be in there. I had to step out of that situation."

Malexi began waiting outside the therapy room. When Sophia was alone with the therapist, she started to listen and began making progress. But her limited range of movement presented challenges.

Unusual surgery leads to breakthrough
After evaluating Sophia's condition, an orthopedic doctor recommended she undergo an operation that would release her tight tendons. It was a surgery that is usually not recommended for children under age 7 because it may need to be repeated later in life. However, in Sophia's case, a CT scan revealed that her hips were so restricted that they would likely become dislocated if she didn't have the surgery sooner. So, at the age of 4, Sophia underwent the operation, which required her to be in a cast from the waist down for six weeks.

Before the operation, Sophia's mother had trouble changing her diaper because she couldn't bend her legs. After surgery, the cast continued to make diaper changes difficult. But, when the cast was removed, both Malexi and Sophia were overwhelmed by its success.

"I heard her saying 'open...close' over and over," Malexi recalled. "She was laying on the bed, saying 'open, close' as she moved her legs back and forth for the first time."

Sophia started light therapy, which became more intense as her body healed. The therapist was able to teach Malexi how to do the exercises with her at home. With the help of therapy, Sophia increased her mobility, and in one year was walking without the assistance of a walker.

Sophia's success opened the door to a lot of changes for her and her family. When she came to Schreiber she could barely sit down.

"She was not flexible at all. Her posture was hunched and her legs wouldn't straighten when she sat down. They were bent when she stood, also," Malexi said. "Now she is walking, and she can bend down to pick up something from the floor, and she is running. So she has done a complete 360."

Although she runs with some difficulty, it is a treasure to see Sophia's joyful strides down the hall outside the physical therapy room at Schreiber. She will continue to improve both physically and socially, and can look forward to a promising future.

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