Never Give Up… Never Give In
It is so inspiring to see how resilient children can be in overcoming their disabilities. When confronted with the fallout of childhood disabilities, children are somehow able to adapt and overcome despite seemingly insurmountable odds against them. A growing body of evidence points to what might seem like a simple reason: these children have committed families and support systems dedicated to their growth and success. Finley is no exception.
Finley was born with a hole in her skull and missing her Corpus Collosum, the area in the center of the brain that connects the left and right sides allowing faor communication between both hemispheres. She was diagnosed with hydrocephalus when excess cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) collected in her brain’s ventricles, negatively impacting her optic nerve and caused her to begin experiencing seizures. Over the years, she has had multiple revisions of her ventriculoperitoneal (VP) shunt in order to relieve the pressure on her brain caused by the fluid accumulation. Unfortunately, due to the multiple skull expansion surgeries, Finley developed a Chiari malformation, a structural defect in the base of her skull and cerebellum, the part of the brain that controls balance.
Finley had 14 surgeries in the first 4 years of her life, more than most people will experience in a lifetime. Unfortunately, she continued to experience additional seizures and a regression in her speech and social skills despite the surgeries she underwent. Despite everyone’s best efforts, Finley continues to have significant developmental delays, is non-verbal, cannot walk well, does not eat consistently and has sensory processing issues such as seeking out her environment using her mouth.
Her parents were vigilant in seeking out crucial therapies for Finley from the time she was born. A caring and generous support network has been right there beside them every step of the way. They are constantly looking for additional interventions that could aid Finley in moving forward and provide her with the best chance at the most independent future possible. As an adult, Finley’s cousin received hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) in Florida with great success. After researching their options and reading family testimonials they decided to visit Sara’s Garden for a tour. While here, they received the encouragement they needed to try HBOT for themselves with Finley. As always, their amazing network of family and friends came alongside the family to ensure they had the means to afford her treatments.
During their first round of treatments they noticed an increase in Finley’s appetite and a reduction in some of her sensory behaviors such as mouthing toys and chewing on her clothes. She even allowed her mother to brush her hair without a fight. Her attention and focus increased as she started responding to her name when called. She began saying more words and showed improved sequencing, sorting and memory skills when playing with blocks each day during her breaks. They even noticed improvement in her social and emotional skills as she displayed an increase in affection, kissing and hugging her mom without prompting, and showed an increased ability to interact with peers.
Finley’s family was thrilled when she began exploring and trying new toys that she had never interacted with in the past, exhibiting signs of improved motor skills resulting in functional and appropriate play! When she returned home following her initial round of treatments, her therapists were excited to see that her balance and coordination had improved and that she was much more aware of her surroundings since the last time they had seen her.
Finley’s improvements weren’t lost on her school either. She can now pull herself up the steps of her bus and her teachers are letting her walk to and from the bus as her balance is better that it was before. She began stacking blocks and stringing beads, which has been an unmet goal on her IEP since she started preschool over 2 years ago! She has started using a straw and a spoon with increased confidence and can now drink from a water bottle without sticking her tongue in the opening.
Her family was so thrilled at the results they saw from Finley’s first 40 treatments that they decided to come back again for a second round. Early on, they were thrilled to experience a vocabulary explosion! Finley was talking up a storm – not just repeating – but using words more functionally without prompting! Finley said thank you, good morning, goodbye, see you later and more all in appropriate social situations. Finley showed more improved balance and coordination when navigating different slopes and grades. Upon returning home after her second round of treatments, her therapists were again amazed at her improved focus on tasks and less mouthing of items that has allowed for more functional expression during therapy sessions.
Finley completed two rounds consisting of 40 treatments each time within 3 months and noticed enormous benefits. The opportunity for hope and healing that was available for Finley at Sara’s Garden has made an impact on not just Finley or her family, but for their community as well. Sharing their daughter’s story has been something they have done before she was even born. They are thankful to now include Sara’s Garden in Finley’s continued story and look forward to returning for more treatments in the future!
No matter what you’ve been told, there is hope… for this and many other conditions. HBOT is treatment without drugs… without surgery… without pain.