A young girl's a new take on life and limb

Tara remembers the long nights of crying. She also remembers feeling helpless.

Her daughter, Jacqueline, struggled with leg pain from her cerebral palsy. She couldn’t get comfortable. Pain from dystonia would shoot down her legs for hours on end.

(Dystonia is a movement disorder where muscles contract uncontrollably often resulting in repeated movements or abnormal postures.)

Those were long nights for both mother and daughter. But thankfully, with the support of Holland Bloorview, they’re quickly becoming a distant memory.

Jacqueline is nine-years old now. Despite her challenges, she’s very kind-hearted and happy go lucky.

She’s also bright and articulate.

Tara has been taking Jacqueline to Holland Bloorview since 2013 and she’s watched her undergo a remarkable transformation.

“They eased her pain – that’s the first thing Holland Bloorview has done,” stressed Tara.

Jacqueline receives Botox injections that have helped her move virtually pain-free. (While best known as a cosmetic treatment for wrinkles, Botox can also be used as a treatment to reduce leg spasms for kids with cerebral palsy.)

“You can’t put a price on that,” said Tara.

Jacqueline embraces her braces

Next, Holland Bloorview’s orthotics department provided her with lower leg braces. Now, she not only walks unassisted, she runs.

“These braces have made her so mobile,” said Tara who loves nothing more than watching Jacqueline play with her friends outside.

As well, a physiotherapist has shown her how to do stretches at home, which has also helped her mobility and pain.

A helping hand

Moving from her legs to her hands, Holland Bloorview is also helping Jacqueline with school by arranging for a special computer.

Jacqueline’s hand strength is weak, and she was having trouble writing and keeping up with her school work. She was frustrated and annoyed.  

“She knew the answers and had lots of ideas, but she had difficulty writing them down,” said Tara. “Her hand tired easily and the quality of her writing was quite poor.”

Thanks to Holland Bloorview’s Communications and Writing Aids Service, Tara will soon purchase a special computer that will help Jacqueline keep up with her classmates.

Jacqueline can’t wait. Neither can Tara, who said, “I know this will give her a new confidence.”

Sound sense of self

While her confidence at school is set to soar, Jacqueline’s confidence in herself is already solid.

The staff at Holland Bloorview have helped Jacqueline develop a good sense of self, believes Tara.

“She’s kind, but she also stands up for herself and others,” she said.  

She’s passionate about fairness and believes everyone should be welcomed and included.

“As the only child in her school with a physical disability, Jacqueline gets a lot of questions about her braces,” said Tara. “She’s patient and explains what her braces do and why she wears them.”

Jacqueline is in Grade 4 now and her favourite subject is language. She’s told her mom she wants to be an author one day. Proof of that can be found in her love of writing stories.  

“My dream is for Jacqueline to grow up and do whatever she wants to do and not let anything stand in her way,” said Tara. “She has the spirit and the drive.”

“Holland Bloorview is giving her the care, the tools and the right attitude to do just that.”