Zoey’s Story

The idea of surgery can be daunting, but to 16-year-old Zoey, it felt more like a new beginning. As a child, Zoey was diagnosed with a rare condition called Krabbe disease, which caused significant tightness and spasticity throughout her legs and hips. This summer, she underwent a major, multi-level surgery at Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare in Saint Paul, Minnesota. The surgery lasted 10 hours and ultimately released her tendons and realigned her hips, knees and feet.

After spending six weeks in a cast at home, Zoey was ready to begin her road to recovery! Her family knew she needed a place to safely regain her strength and daily living skills, reach her goals and be pushed to her full potential. That’s when they came to ChildServe’s pediatric Inpatient Rehabilitation program.

“We came in with the goal of maximizing Zoey’s strengths and minimizing her weaknesses,” said her mom, Amber. “We weren’t sure what that would look like in the end, but we are beyond surprised and ecstatic at the progress she has made. Before surgery, independence was not a reality for Zoey. Now we see her ability to keep moving forward and have the best chance at true independence. We are excited to see where this takes her!”

While at ChildServe, Zoey received intensive physical and occupational therapies, where she worked hard to build her muscles and increase her flexibility. Her team used specialized technology to help Zoey build strength in her legs.

“It was such an amazing pleasure to get to work with Zoey,” said her physical therapist, Josh Beukelman. “We integrated both the functional electrical stimulation bike and Xcite program into her therapy sessions. Both programs use electrical stimulation to produce muscle activation and help the brain with motor planning. These technologies are incredibly beneficial for individuals like Zoey because they offer her new ways to relearn activities that improve her independence and quality of life.”

In her three weeks at ChildServe, Zoey gained the ability to stretch to her toes, improve her positioning, and get dressed independently.

“For many people, they seem like such simple, easy tasks, but for us, they are huge milestones we didn’t know were possible,” Amber said. “We’re no longer focused on what she’s capable of today. Instead, it’s about where her abilities can take her. Every day she inspires me, and makes me want to be better. It’s an honor to be her mom.”

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ChildServe improves the health and well-being of 5,200 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.

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