“Irlanda is animated, outgoing and sensitive,” Irlanda’s mom Karla said. “She is extremely social, loves to be around people, and her beautiful spirit and intuition never fail her.”
When Irlanda was nine, an unexpected illness turned into a life-changing experience. What started as a severe headache eventually led to the discovery of an infection in the space between her skull bones and brain lining. In a matter of days, Irlanda would undergo two emergency brain surgeries that would ultimately remove a portion of the right side of her skull.
As a result of this surgery, Irlanda lost all mobility on the left side of her body. With a long road to recovery in front of her, she arrived at ChildServe in Jojo’s Inpatient Pediatric Rehabilitation Unit where she found her home away from home for six weeks.
“Our first physical therapy sessions focused on improving Irlanda’s sitting balance,” ChildServe physical therapist Josh Beukelman said, “After her first week of physical and occupational therapies at ChildServe, she had started to regain partial mobility on her left side.”
“Activities that seemed impossible and overwhelming at the beginning of her story became opportunities to improve and show how far she has come,” said Josh. “Apart from the physical growth Irlanda has made in rehabilitation, we’ve also watched as she’s exploded with confidence, determination and resilience.”
“By the time we reached our final session, Irlanda was working on high-level balance skills like walking with a cane, bending over to pick an object off the floor and standing on one leg.”
The ChildServe team cheered Irlanda on and watched in awe as she met obstacles with bravery.
“Irlanda built beautiful relationships with each and every person she interacted with at ChildServe,” said Karla. “She loved visiting and reading to some of the younger patients there. The nurses, doctors and therapists filled her with love and support. Everyone became an arm of moral support for her, and she loved being part of the ChildServe family.
“We feel that ChildServe’s focus on children made this journey a better one for us. It made us feel safe and comfortable, and it allowed us to interact with other families who understood and could relate to our journey. Staying at ChildServe created a sense of family for us, with all the amazing team members. Their knowledge and experience made us feel like everything would be okay.”
When Irlanda moved home, she was able to walk with assistance and complete most tasks with her right hand. Irlanda will continue to go to outpatient therapy at ChildServe three times a week and her family hopes that therapy and at-home exercises will help her gain full mobility one day. They also hope her character and love for life will continue to grow through her illness and recovery.
“We hope that this experience will teach Irlanda to live her life to its fullest and to continue reaching for the stars,” said Karla, “This has truly been a miracle for all of us, and we have been blessed with many, many angels along the way.”
ChildServe improves the health and well-being of nearly 5,800 children each year through specialized clinical, home, and community-based programs and services. We serve children with developmental delays, disabilities, injuries, and other special healthcare needs.