Skipping like the wind

Remy has cerebral palsy, a disorder that’s the result of damage to the developing brain. It’s one of the more common causes of chronic childhood disability: About 10,000 infants in the U.S. are diagnosed with it each year, according to WebMD.

The condition affects the left side of Remy’s body, and she wears a brace on her left leg to prevent her achilles tendon from tightening, said Schreiber physical therapist Diane Weis.

Heather Colosi, Remy’s mom, had been taking Remy to a traditional physical therapist — one who treats mostly adults — with little to show for it.

“We went for a year and didn’t see any progress,” Heather says. “Finally, I got fed up.”

They started at Schreiber in August, and Heather could see a difference immediately.

“The other place wasn’t focused on children,” she says. “Here, they have the bright colors and the toys and games. It makes it more enjoyable.”

And Remy’s mobility improved, too. But Mom thought Remy would benefit from a little extra motivation. When she saw the Fulton Theatre would be presenting “The Wizard of Oz” this summer, she talked with Remy about trying out.

“My mom asked me if I wanted to do it, and I said, ‘Yeah,'” Remy says.

To be a Munchkin, though, Remy had to learn to skip. And as her therapist says: “Skipping was not in her wheelhouse.”

Diane’s work with Remy has focused on strengthening Remy’s left leg and improving her one-foot balance. Remy has gradually learned to step up on increasingly higher steps. She does a lot of climbing.

Skipping required a little extra work. Diane added some new strengthening and stretching, and she walked Remy through the step-hop pattern. And Remy practiced skipping. Over and over and over. One week before her audition in May, she had it down.

“When she finally got it, she was so excited,” Heather says. “You could see the lightbulb go off. She said, ‘I got it. I understand it. I can do it.'”

On Thursday, she will put her new skipping skills to work — for opening night at the Fulton. If you see a Munchkin with a little extra determination in her eye and a little more joy in her step, that’s probably Remy, following a Yellow Brick Road to her own version of Oz.