Madonna Rehabilitation Hospitals

Pediatric patient learns to take small steps toward independence

August 22, 2023

Otto is a happy and bright 3-year-old who was born with cerebral palsy (CP), a neurological disorder that causes muscle weakness and tightness. The condition prevents Otto from standing, walking, and doing other independent activities.

“Last year at this time, we couldn't have even thought of him walking," Marissa Stover, Otto's mom said. "Now, he walks in and out every day to Madonna in his gate trainer." 

Otto lives in Lincoln with his parents, Marissa and Derry, and his big brother Oliver. He came to Madonna Rehabilitation Hospitals after a major surgery, known as a selective dorsal rhizotomy (SDR), to help relieve tightness. This procedure should help relieve much of the tightness in his legs and will help him to walk independently in the future. 

“He came to us with his parents for evaluation," Adam Kafka, M.D., the medical director of Madonna Rehabilitation Hospital-Lincoln, said. "After I saw him, I set him up with our full pediatric comprehensive clinic so that he could be evaluated by physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy. Then, once we had all seen him, then we could get back together with the parents and come up with a plan for recommendations moving forward in his rehabilitation journey."

One of the benefits of Madonna's pediatric program is that Madonna's staff manages a diagnosis across a child’s developmental milestones.

Kafka started Otto on a series of oral medications, but due to side effects, he soon decided to pursue other avenues.

“We decided to pursue injectables," Kafka said. "So, botulinum toxin, which most people think of as Botox, it’s an injectable medication that you can target specific muscles that are overactive and too tight to help relax them. It provides months of relief.”

After Otto started Botox, his mom started to see significant changes, and he has continued these treatments.

Otto's customized treatment plan has allowed him to start opening his hand more, relaxing his arm, and doing more functional tasks with his arm and hand. Otto will continue to come to Madonna throughout his life. Madonna offers many of its pediatric patients an episodic model of care, which is a program for kids with both developmental and acquired injuries. Madonna staff will see them during different “episodes” of their life to support them with their changing physical and cognitive needs.

“My heart's been touched by people here," Marissa said. "He loves coming here, and that's one of our biggest takeaways, too. He says he's excited to ride the bike and do the wiggle machine, also known as your Proprio."

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