Cayden Nelson: "I Can Jump Now!"
When you step into the gym at Firelands Regional Medical Center Children’s S.P.O.T, it is hard to keep up with Cayden Nelson. The five-year-old Fremont boy is running around the entire room, demonstrating his favorite ways he “plays” with his therapists for two hours each week. If you can catch him, you’ll see him shooting hoops in the basketball court (his favorite!), sliding down one of several playground-type sets, walking across the balance beam or zip lining (with help from a therapist) into a child-sized ball pit that is both exhilarating and giggle-inducing for Cayden.
For anyone who doesn’t know, it is nearly impossible to perceive that Cayden was born with cerebral palsy - but this wasn’t always the case. Cayden has been enrolled in therapy programs since he was born, beginning with one at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. When his family moved to Fremont, he began therapy there. Then, in May 2015, Cayden had surgery to straighten his right leg. His parents knew the surgery would help their son’s gait, but they also knew how important physical and occupational therapy would be in achieving maximum mobility for Cayden.
“We decided after his surgery to begin therapy at Firelands Children’s S.P.O.T,” said mom, Ashley. “His orthopedic surgeonf rom University Hospitals Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital recommended this program, and we’ve been seeing great progress ever since.”
Ambulatory improvement wasn’t the only goal the Nelsons had for their son. His cerebral palsy affected the entire left side of his body and his speech.
“We really wanted to hear more clarity in Cayden’s speech, especially as he entered school this year,” said dad, Chris. “We were so happy when he tested out of speech therapy last week after ten months of hard work. From a physical side, he needed more strength in his right side. He needed better range of motion and we’ve seen incredible improvement in both of those things for Cayden.”
Cayden’s therapy consists of one hour of occupational therapy and one hour of physical therapy per week, now that he no longer needs speech therapy. His occupational therapist works on fine motor skills with him, offering him something every five- year-old yearns for: independence.
“Ever since he was born, Cayden has been an independent person. He’s always wanted to do things himself, so it was frustrating when he needed help dressing, or holding utensils or just picking up papers,” Ashley recalled. “Now, with the help of occupational therapy, he is able to button his jeans, dress himself, do puzzles and just do everyday tasks like pick up his school papers- things we often don’t even think about. He is a lot more independent now.”
As Cayden’s family looks back on their year with Firelands Children’s S.P.O.T, they are amazed by the progress and enthused about the future for him.
“We just can’t say enough about the program here,” said Ashley. “Cayden loves coming to ‘play’ with Miss Erin, Miss Chelsea and Miss Katie. We love that he loves coming to therapy and that he is making progress.”
Chris added, “We are excited to see his continued improvement and we are so happy with the care he receives every single week.”
As Cayden jumps from the play equipment to a soft pillow on the floor, it’s easy to see what matters to him.
“I can jump now! Watch me jump!”