Inspiring Stories

Colorado Dreaming
Marshall Garber

A few years ago, I developed a mass on my spinal cord that left me paralyzed. My family sought out the best place to help me, which was Kennedy Krieger. Going into treatment, I didn’t have any intention of forming a family there, but in a way, I did. Multiple people at Kennedy Krieger had an impact on me, but Dr. Becker has been one of the most influential people in my recovery.

The Neurobehavioral Unit at Kennedy Krieger helps turn around a young boy with self-injurious and aggressive behavior.
Luke McNair happy

Chrissy McNair describes her son Luke, 13, as “one of the happiest kids I’ve ever met.” He usually wakes up in a good mood and likes cracking jokes with his two brothers. He loves Top-40 music and animals, and has been riding horses since he was 3 years old. “The best word for him is passionate,” says his mother. “He passionately loves the things he loves and he passionately hates the things he hates.” But when Luke would get upset, that passion began to manifest in disturbing and even dangerous ways.

After multiple doctors could not help relieve her suffering from pain so severe she could no longer walk, Katie Bickford sought help at Kennedy Krieger’s Pediatric Pain Rehabilitation Program and today, she has her life back.
Katie Bickford

Katie Bickford remembers the pain starting in the 7th grade—it began in her spine and radiated out all over her body. The pain got so bad she couldn’t walk. To make matters worse, she fractured her heel, and then her arm, so it hurt to use crutches.

She used a wheelchair to get around, but in her house where the wheelchair wouldn’t fit, she resorted to crawling, developing thick calluses on her hands and knees. She could no longer function and stopped going to school.

After cancer and chemotherapy left her so fragile doctors said she might never walk again, Perry found her strength with the help of Kennedy Krieger’s Specialized Transition Program.
Perry Zimmerman

At the tender age of 13, Perry Zimmerman has already battled a lifetime’s worth of illnesses. Born with retinoblastoma, a type of eye cancer, Perry developed a related brain tumor at age two that doctors did not expect her to survive. For the Zimmerman family, watching their two-year-old daughter go through chemotherapy was heartwrenching, but when it was over, Perry emerged cancer-free.

An unexpected collaboration between neurology and bioengineering led to an innovative, low-cost medical device that may help prevent cerebral palsy in developing countries.

As far back as 1000 BC, ancient civilizations used a primitive, but ingenious, cooling system using nothing more than clay pots, water, and the natural cooling power of evaporation to keep food cool. Could this same low-tech cooling system be used to prevent brain damage and cerebral palsy in developing countries?

For Pfeiffer’s family, every little milestone is a miracle, thanks to the International Center for Spinal Cord Injury.
Pfeiffer Whiteley

At 4 years old, Victoria “Pfeiffer” Whiteley is funny, precocious, very charming, and wise beyond her years. She loves dresses with flowers, Barbies, and all things girly. She is also partially paralyzed, a result of transverse myelitis.

When Pfeiffer Whiteley was 8 months old, she developed a high fever and seemed to “flop over.” Both the pediatrician and the doctor at the hospital said the same thing—it was just a virus that would resolve on its own.

For a 14-year-old boy who lost his arms in a landmine explosion in Yemen, new prosthetic arms and rehabilitative therapy from Kennedy Krieger’s Limb Differences Clinic open up a world of possibilities for his future.
Mohammed Karim

Four years ago, Abdul Karim heard an explosion just outside his house in Yemen. When he opened his door, his ten-year-old son, Mohammed, was standing in the doorway, covered in blood. Mohammed had spent that morning playing outside near his village. As the sun cast its light over the nearby mosque, Mohammed noticed a shiny object on the ground. 

“You can do whatever you want as long as you put your mind to it.”

In November 2009 I felt a sudden, severe pain in my legs. I was diagnosed with a disease called transverse myelitis, which attacked my spinal cord and paralyzed me from the waist down. I had some feeling in my legs, like pins and needles, but I had no movement whatsoever. I started coming to Kennedy Krieger for intensive therapy four to five hours a day. Thanks to my amazing therapists and because I was religious about continuing therapy at home, I made a lot of progress.

New interdisciplinary clinic brings world-class research, care, and support for families of patients with complex neurodevelopmental disorder.
Mason Ditch playing

When Chris and Crystal Ditch delivered their baby boy, Mason, they burst into tears of joy. It had taken them four years to get pregnant, and they finally held the baby they had awaited for so long. But two hours before Crystal and Mason were scheduled to be discharged, doctors told them that Mason had tumors in his tiny heart. A few days later, doctors found tumors in his brain, and diagnosed him with tuberous sclerosis, a rare complex genetic disorder occurring in one out of 6,000 births that causes non-cancerous tumors to grow in multiple organs, including the brain, eyes, heart, kidneys, skin, and lungs.

The unlikely role of video games in neurorehabilitation.
Marci with physical therapist

Tell a kid to do three repetitions of 15 pushups or 25 leg lifts or any of the other myriad exercises that physical therapists assign during a regular session, and the automatic response might be a roll of the eyes and a groan before relenting—only to tucker out and lose focus or motivation before it’s over. But hand this same kid a Nintendo Wii video game controller and tell him to play a game of basketball or a few innings of baseball, or—in the case of 6-year-old patient Maci Janiski—a round of Just Dance, and suddenly 200 repetitions are no problem.

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