Olivia is an adorable 17-month-old girl who was born 6.5 weeks early with a diagnosis of Trisomy 2 (duplication of part of chromosome #2). Olivia spent her first few months in the NICU and had a tracheostomy placed at 7 months of age.
Due to Olivia’s rare diagnosis, she has low muscle tone, which contributes to feeding difficulties, problems with breathing, and delayed development of motor skills such as sitting, standing, and walking. Olivia’s physical therapy treatment over the past 2-3 months has focused on helping her to become independent and focuses on mobility. Olivia’s most recent accomplishments are transitioning into sitting all on her own and commando crawling!
Go Baby Go!
Oliva’s therapist, Heather Pitner, PT, and a group of THERAPY 2000 therapists attended a workshop to learn how to modify toy power vehicles through GoBabyGo! This program started several years ago at the University of Delaware by Cole Galloway, PhD, PT. After studying infant behavior, Dr. Galloway became interested in closing what he calls “the exploration gap.” This is the gap that we see between children with typical mobility and those who experience mobility impairments such as cerebral palsy, spina bifida, and Down syndrome. When an infant or toddler reaches for an object, scoots across the carpet, or learns to walk around the room, she’s learning to interact with her environment in a way that forges new connections. A mobile child learns how to explore a room and approach other children.
Go Baby Go! provides powered toy cars to developmentally disabled children from 8 months to 4 years old. This enables these children to move themselves similarly to typically developing children. Research has shown that early mobility opportunities lead to an increase in social interaction and cognitive development.
The moment Olivia was placed in her new “car”, she started pressing the button, causing the car to move forward and backward. She was looking all around as she moved on her own throughout her living room. The following weekend, Olivia’s mom took her and her car into the family’s backyard, and Olivia explored it for the first time.
Olivia is a very determined little girl, who will no doubt surprise us all with what she can do!