As told by his therapist Dr. Kelly Coney-Pacious
Meet Charlie! As you can imagine from the pictures and videos, this handsome little man greets Shining Hope Farms staff, volunteers and equines with smiles, high fives and fist bumps every week! This enthusiasm, love and perseverance are true testaments of Charlie’s personality and attitude toward life, since doctors and therapy appointments have been frequent occurrences for Charlie in his 5 years of life.
Charlie was born with Down Syndrome and Transient myeloproliferative disorder which transitioned into leukemia when he was 16 months old. Charlie’s treatment including Chemotherapy required hospitalizations and isolation for nearly six months, resulting in gross motor developmental delays and regression. However, this would not stop Charlie and this fall Charlie celebrated 3 years cancer-free!
When medically stable, Charlie resumed his therapy services which included adding weekly physical therapy at Shining Hope Farms. When Charlie first started services at Shining Hope Farms his functional goals included getting up from the floor, standing without support and taking steps. But now Charlie’s functional goals include running, jumping and navigating the playground including ladders and slides to play with his friends. Recently Charlie even started going up and down several steps without holding on- go Charlie! Charlie’s amazing story and progress is a result of so many variables – his determination, his doctors, his family support system and his therapies including physical therapy utilizing hippotherapy.
Equine movement is a part of Charlie’s integrative physical therapy treatment plan. When directed by a therapist the three dimensional gait pattern of the horse provides Charlie’s body with feedback and education on how to move his body when off of the horse, assisting him in achieving these developmental milestones over the years. In addition, equine movement increases strength and balance and provides his body with increased sensory input allowing him to increase his focus. While on the horse Charlie is now engaging in higher dynamic balance and coordination tasks, requiring him to multitask, plan and execute activities such as reaching for objects or completing a bean bag toss while maintaining his position on a moving surface. All of these activities help Charlie to reach his functional mobility goals and increase his independence when interacting with his family and friends.
And of course, interacting with the horse each week is motivating. Articulation and communication is definitely not the focus of Charlie’s physical therapy treatments, but his increased vocalizations and communication with the staff, volunteer and the horse are clear when engaging in equine movement. Charlie loves to tell his horse to “Go”, “I love you” or sing him some of his favorite songs including No More Monkeys Jumping on the Bed.
Charlie’s mom told us that, “Hands down, Shining Hope Farms has been one of the greatest blessings of Charlie’s development! I don’t know where’d we be without it.”
Charlie’s personality and story are amazing and inspiring and we just can’t wait to see the progress Charlie continues to make in physical therapy “with the help of the horse!”
Would you consider giving $24 to feed Charlie’s horse Willy? $24 will feed Willy for an entire week!
The goal for this #GivingSeasonCLT is to feed all of the “Gentle Giants that Help Our Clients,” so that children like Charlie can continue receiving their amazing benefits (the majority, with no out of pocket costs to their family).