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An indomitable strength of will

Mahatma Ghandi once said, “Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will.” This could not be truer of four-and-a-half-year-old Marley and his mother Tafadzwa.

Marley has a complicated medical history. He received a diagnosis of athetoid cerebral palsy, a form of cerebral palsy characterized by uncontrolled movement which as also caused fluctuations in muscle tone, in addition to a diagnosis of vision loss and seizures.

Through word of mouth connections with medical professionals and organizations involved in Marley’s care, his family found Innovative Services NW. Marley began receiving Physical, Speech, and Occupational therapies at Innovative beginning in 2018. The goal of this combination of therapies is to help Marley build foundational skills for interacting with people, handling toys and objects, and stabilizing and moving his body. All of the time spent in therapy at the clinic is supported by the work Tafadzwa does with him daily at home, resulting in consistent progress.

Marley participates in weekly Speech Therapy with Speech Language Pathologist Meghan Knight, where he is learning how to communicate with an eye-gaze device. He plays eye-gaze games to build his endurance and precision, as the device can be tiring and takes a lot of practice to use as a primary method of communication. When not playing games, he uses the language system Unity 21 to express his wants and needs. In the course of three months, Marley began learning how to answer yes or no questions. He is now asking for “more” during play routines with his family. His communication skills have come a long way!

In Occupational Therapy with therapist Julie Halker, Marley is working on a variety of engagement and play activities. They are focusing on his ability to firmly grasp objects and use his hands more effectively and accurately. He has also improved on keeping his mouth closed with his lips together, retaining his saliva on his own.

Marley has also made significant progress in his mobility through Physical TherapyIntensive Physical Therapy takes place in daily three-hour sessions over three-week rotations several times a year. Physical Therapist Jessica DeLong works with him on loosening his muscles to increase his range of motion, strength, and balance. He is able to hold his head up high and proud and he has learned the power of movement! He is initiating movement in his environment by rolling from his back to his side, moving out of a sitting position onto his stomach, and holding himself steady while propped up for at least two minutes. He is also gaining endurance in standing, bouncing up and down in a supportive device, taking independent steps in a gait trainer, and propelling his adaptive tricycle!

Tafadzwa said, “the approach of Physical Therapy has been extremely helpful in the sense that it is based on building a strong foundation. Rather than aim to get Marley up on his feet and walking with no intermediate steps, the therapist has been insightful to see that Marley has some very tight muscle and has adopted some postures and structural issues which need to be resolved prior to him reaching his goals of walking.”

She also remarked on Marley’s change in spirit since beginning therapy. She noted, “he has been becoming more and more vocal and expressive emotionally, more in tune with his surroundings and responsive accordingly, and seems to be maintaining better focus on objects and eye contact with people. Marley is encouraged by the comprehensive care he receives and he is enthusiastic and energetic due to the improvements he has recently made.” She expressed that the quality of care for Marley helps improve his happiness and quality of life, which in turn improves the quality of life of their entire family.

Marley’s world is opening up around him, through his and his family’s continued resiliency. They are giving their all to ensure Marley is the strongest little boy he can possibly be, in the core of his body and his character.

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