Inspiring Stories

Kennedy Krieger’s new Aquatic Therapy Center gives a spinal cord injury patient mobility and hope.
Aquatic Therapy at Kennedy Krieger

It's the dead of winter, but college junior Darin Ruark is spending much of his winter break afloat in a sparkling, penthouse-level pool. The air is warm and the sun shines through floor-to-ceiling windows. But while it may sound like a relaxed get-away, Darin isn't enjoying a winter vacation with friends or family. Instead he's swimming at the Kennedy Krieger Institute as part of an innovative aquatic therapy program.

Young Woman Turns Spinal Cord Injury into an Inspirational Career

There was broken glass and debris everywhere, and I could hear sirens in the distance. Just moments before I was sleeping in the car as we drove home from a family vacation in Florida. I was jolted awake as the car flipped over, and I could feel myself being thrown around as if I were in a washing machine. I was strangely calm, lying half in and half out of the backseat - until the paramedic checked me for injuries and I couldn't feel anything. I began to panic. When I asked if I was paralyzed, he wouldn't answer.

Kennedy Krieger gives hope,not limits, to a family from Nebraska.
Never Say Never

It was spring of 2007, and the town of Hastings, Nebraska, was looking forward to summer. Memorial Day weekend had come and gone, and Kirk and Jami Ortegren had just watched their son Jack crawl for the first time.

On Thursday, May 31, they dropped him off at day care, telling the staff there that he was a little grouchy because he was teething. 

The Long Road to Recovery After A Brain Injury
Girl Interrupted

A faded piece of paper taped to her bathroom mirror lists the things that 20-year-old Amy Dykes needs to do each morning: take her medicine, brush her hair, wash her face, brush her teeth, apply her makeup. Today that piece of paper is seldom used, but just two years ago, it was a map that helped guide Amy through each morning.

Kennedy Krieger's new Center for Genetic Muscle Disorders helps mother and son live with muscular dystrophy. 
Lileen Walters

It’s 1976 and flash bulbs pop as eager relatives urge seven-year-old Lilleen Walters to smile for the camera. Feeling fancy in her flower girl dress, she fights to curve her lips into a smile to please the wedding guests, but her muscles won’t obey. Days and months go by, and Lilleen still can’t smile.

With hard work and faith, nothing is impossible.
Matt Courson

I've always been an athlete. When I was younger, I pitched the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) World Series twice. After high school, I played baseball for the University of Arkansas at Monticello. But, despite those achievements, I never imagined how much physical strength I would need in a wheelchair. Late one Saturday night two years ago, I got on my fourwheeler to visit a friend, but I never made it to his apartment. My ATV (all-terrain vehicle) went over an eight-foot embankment, and I was knocked out. When I came to, I couldn't move. I laid there all night and staring up at the stars; I knew something wasn't right.

Overcoming complex regional pain syndrome.

It was a twisted ankle that finally brought Corinne down. After so many injuries-a broken hip, surgery on her knees and her shoulder-it was one small twist, something anyone would dismiss offhand, and Corinne was flat on her back, in absolutely unimaginable, intolerable pain.

SHNIC helps teachers learn about special needs.
Making the Grade

Bryan's teachers were at a loss for how to help him when he hid under his desk or back in the cubby area and cried. They knew he had been diagnosed with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder; dysgraphia, a learning disability that affects writing abilities...

"When you have a child with special needs, you're often running to the doctor's office..."
Bringing It All Home

Having a child with special needs often makes parents feel as though they are spending their lives driving from one specialist to another, trapped in waiting rooms, and filling out forms. It was no different for John and Amy Thompson. Their son Jake was diagnosed with Rasmussen's syndrome, a brain disorder that causes seizures. Because of the disorder, he underwent a hemispherectomy, a surgery to remove half his brain. After the surgery, Jake needed many different therapies, and the visits to specialists seemed unending.

Project HEAL blends health care and advocacy.
Jeffrey

Life has dealt 14-year-old Jeffrey a particularly challenging hand. Jeffrey, who lives with his parents and sibling in a low-income neighborhood in South Baltimore, has bipolar, obsessive-compulsive, anxiety, and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorders

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