The success of our pediatric program and the lives touched by this program wouldn’t be possible without the support from our community partners, such as the Jewish Hospital and St. Mary's Foundation, Crusade for Children, Kosair Charities, Honorable Order of the Kentucky Colonels, Ronald McDonald House Charities, and many others. The Crusade for Children has shown consistent dedication to the enhancement of our Frazier Pediatric Programs over the years, donating more than 1 million dollars.
Leo’s parents did not know children could have strokes, but that’s what happened when their son was just three years old. After spending three weeks in the hospital, Leo was taken to Frazier Rehab Institute for specialized stroke rehabilitation. Upon his arrival, Leo could not eat or swallow and was hardly moving. While Leo’s therapy will be ongoing for many years, he is slowly regaining some of his previous functions.
“It seemed like Leo was going nowhere in his recovery at times, but where he is today compared to day one is nothing short of a miracle.” – Leo’s family.
August 22, 2014, was just a typical Friday for Rob and Paula Head, until they found their daughter, Caitlyn, unresponsive on the floor of their Shelbyville home.
“Her younger sister came running into our room and said her sissy was throwing up,” Rob Head said. “Caitlyn’s eyes were wide open, but I couldn’t get her to stand up or talk or anything.”
The Heads rushed Caitlyn to the hospital, where she was diagnosed with an intracranial hemorrhage, or bleeding inside the skull. The hemorrhage was spontaneous and doctors were unsure of the cause. Prior to the incident, Caitlyn was a healthy 12-year-old with no recent illness or trauma.
After a week in the PICU at Kosair Children’s Hospital, Caitylyn awoke from an unresponsive state and was paralyzed on her right side, unable to speak or swallow. She was transferred to Frazier Rehab Institute for inpatient care.
For the next eight weeks, Caitlyn underwent intensive physical, occupational and speech therapy to re-learn how to stand, walk, talk, eat, grasp objects and comprehend the world around her. Her hemorrhage had led to blood pooling, which puts pressure on the brain and deprives it of oxygen. When oxygen deprivation occurs for more than a few minutes, brain cells die, causing impaired function.
Much of Caitlyn’s physical therapy took place in the gym, where therapists led her through arm, leg and weight-bearing exercises. As she progressed, she walked laps around the gym with assistance and rode a stationary bike.
As part of her occupational therapy for fine motor skill development, Caitlyn created art projects using beads and clay. She made brownies in the kitchen of Frazier Rehab, and played Nintendo Wii games to help with balance. One of her favorite activities was working with therapy putty.
When her feeding tube was removed about two weeks into her stay at Frazier, Caitlyn could only speak one or two words at a time and had limited cognition. She re-learned how to connect her thoughts with words through picture flash cards, card games and other activities.
Thanks to all of her therapy at Frazier, Caitlyn was able to accompany her parents and two sisters on the family’s annual Christmas camping trip to Cave City, Ky. She continued her therapy as an outpatient for an additional two months.
Caitlyn returned to school in January 2015, despite some initial balance and fatigue issues. “She’s a normal 14-year-old now. She likes to do art and sing, and give Mom and Dad fits,” joked Rob Head.
There is no doubt in his mind that the treatment Caitlyn received at Frazier was instrumental in her recovery.
“Without Dr. Sue and the team of therapists there, I don’t know where we would be,” Rob Head said. “Even down to the nurses, she was treated with such respect and dignity and caring. It’s truly an amazing place.”
“We were told in the beginning not to have very high expectations for her recovery,” Paula Head said. “Now, she’s back at school and most people don’t even realize anything happened to her.”
Though Synclair Thomas has brittle bones as a result of a rare genetic disorder, osteogenesis imperfecta, she’s incredibly strong in other ways. According to her mother, Tracy Thomas, “she’s tough as nails.”
“She once broke her ankle and wouldn’t tell me it hurt because she wanted to walk up to the playground,” Thomas said. “She didn’t tell me about it until the way back.”
Synclair wasn’t born with any broken bones, unlike many children with the disease. She was finally diagnosed shortly after her first fracture at age 18 months old.
As strong as Synclair is in the face of her pain, she still needed help to recover after the first of two extensive leg surgeries in January 2014. Surgery on her left leg replaced rods in the femur and placed rods in the tibia. She was transferred to Frazier Rehab Institute for a nine-day stay after the procedure.
Synclair’s second stay at Frazier, for two full weeks, occurred in January of 2015, for the same type of surgery on her right leg. Thanks to an overwhelmingly positive experience the first time around, Thomas was happy to send her daughter back to Frazier.
“I was good with that, because it helped her so much,” she said. “I’m that mom, if I had taken her home I would have let her lay on the couch because she’s my baby. Going to Frazier, they got her up and got her moving, and it took Mom out of the picture as the bad guy.”
The physical therapy Syclair underwent included weight bearing exercises and exercises to help control her pain. She used the facility’s parallel bars and practiced walking on stairs.
While the physical therapy was important, “occupational therapy was a lifesaver,” Thomas said. Using the gym’s bathroom, Frazier therapists taught Synclair how to dress herself, get in and out of the shower and use the toilet on her own, ensuring self-sufficiency once she returned home.
Thomas added that Synclair loved doing art projects in the LaRosa Lounge, and enjoyed a field trip to the craft store. “She had so much fun just getting out of the building.”
Having worked with many other doctors and therapists over the years, Tracy Thomas gives Frazier “the highest rating” for care. “It was a completely positive experience. I felt like I could talk openly with any of the therapists, and Dr. Sue was so good about answering all my questions.”
Most importantly, Frazier therapists “loved on” Synclair and laughed with her, Thomas added. “You really need a sense of humor when you’re dealing with that kind of pain.”