Keely spent the better part of a year traveling Central and South America with the Superkids program in 2010/2011, working with children in Gladney orphanages in Colombia, Peru and Costa Rica. She also worked in Ethiopia for two months in 2009. She has so much experience with pediatric PT, orphanage work ,and travel and has been kind enough to share her abundance of wisdom with me. We spent the last two days reviewing the needs of the children I’ve been working with and trying out a few new gadgets. It has been so nice to be able to bounce ideas off of someone else and get advice from someone who has in most instances “been there/done that”. Keely is well-versed in gross motor and mobility evaluations and interventions, so I’ve been gobbling up her knowledge.
Beyond answering my questions, Keely has also been treating children and showing me around town. She brought a gait trainer for a little girl she worked with last year, and they have been having a ball reconnecting and trying out the new gadget. With the gait trainer, this little lady can take steps on her own and use her hands to play without having to worry about her trunk balance and being on a different level than her peers. The gait trainer will stay with her through the next month while her adoptive family is in town for the formal adoption process – something everyone at Chiquitines, myself included, is super excited for as this little one is an absolute joy to be around. Then it will be used by a little guy with a similar condition at another orphanage in Cali. I had the pleasure of traveling with Keely to try out the gait trainer on the second kiddo today, and it was really great to be able to see another institution and its similarities and differences. I’ll be teaching the physical therapist there how to use the gait trainer after Keely leaves, and I’m really looking forward to visiting again.
Also in Keely’s bag of tricks this week was a handful of ankle foot orthoses (AFOs) – braces that support the ankle joint in kids with muscle weakness, abnormal muscle resting tone or deformities. There’s one little guy in particular with really low muscle tone (think “floppy”) who by the end of this week will have a pair of braces that support his feet and ankles and help him walk better. Bonus: he gets brand new shoes to go with them since they require an extra wide sole! We spent this evening in one of Cali’s many shopping centers scouting out his new kicks and other therapy supplies. It has been wonderful having a travel companion with first hand experience of life in Cali. I’ve been here for a month now (today marks the half way point of my stay), but in many ways I feel like I am just now getting into the rhythm of Cali life. With Keely’s pointers in both the everyday way of all things Cali and the Chiquitines work to be done, the next four weeks are sure to be the best yet!
I’m sure I will be checking in again later this week as the excitement continues.
This picture speaks for itself. Do notice the new shoes though – they’re a good three sizes smaller than her previous ones!
Bubble fun while standing in the new gait trainer!