Patient Success Story- Harper


All therapists want to make a difference! With pediatric patients we not only receive the immense joy of seeing the progress in our patients, but on the faces of their parents as well. Approximately one year ago, I began working with an adorable little girl named Harper. She was born at 25 weeks with Chronic Lung Disease, and multiple other diagnoses that come with being a micro preemie. When I started treating Harper, she was 14 months old and still only taking liquids from a bottle. Harper demonstrated a severe oral aversion to foods, her suck/ swallow/breathe pattern was disorganized, and she exhibited multiple signs of aspiration. Harper would gag and retch, so we started slowly with the introduction of purees from a gloved finger. We slowly built her response while simultaneously using techniques to decrease oral aversion. Within six months, Harper was able to eat purees from a spoon and had integrated her suck/swallow/breathe pattern successfully.

During her modified barium swallow study, Harper demonstrated some aspiration and penetration due to muscle fatigue and was recommended to begin NMES (Neuromuscular Electrical Stimulation). In the beginning, Harper did not enjoy NMES and required multiple verbal cues throughout the session, but soon began demonstrating an increased chewing pattern while expanding her variety of food and textures. Our goal was to maintain Harper’s calorie intake without supplementing with Pediasure, so Harper’s mother was encouraged to talk to her gastroenterologist about medications for reflux and a diet plan. Harper is now successfully taking all liquids via sippy cup and eating a variety of food such as broccoli, cauliflower, cheese and crackers, and many more. Harper continues to demonstrate some difficulty with coarse meats and requires extra chewing during these times.

Since she began speech therapy, Harper has decreased upper respiratory infections, pneumonia, and has had no hospitalizations. She has come leaps and bounds and continues to make progress. I couldn’t be any prouder of how hard she has worked to get here. Harper is a little ROCK STAR!!!

-Courtni Marshall, Advanced Clinical Feeding Specialist THERAPY 2000

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