Dressed in a bungee body suit, Samantha’s frail body shook as she struggled to stand upright. Samantha is a 5-year-old with cerebral palsy and this suit teaches her body how to move correctly.
The body suit is part of an innovative intensive therapy for those with disabilitie,s offered through a local charity called Now I Can.
Tracey Christensen founded the organization with her husband after the two were inspired by their daughter, who has cerebral palsy.
“After four years of traditional therapy we went to Poland for intensive therapy,” Christensen said.
After seeing improvements in Poland the couple decided to introduce the therapy to the Provo area. Intensive therapy is innovative because of the amount of time involved – four hours a day, five days a week for three to four weeks.
“Patients have more time to practice skills,” Christensen said. “It allows the kids to learn new habits.”
Those who have used intensive therapy see results in the daily activities.
Jen Schofield, a BYU student with cerebral palsy, has worked with Now I Can for over a year.
“It may not seem like much to you, but I can change a roll of toilet paper,” Schofield said. “I could never do that before.”
Schofield said she has noticed she has more control over her body movements since she started the intensive therapy.
Jenny Green, Samantha’s mother, has taken her daughter to Now I Can for two therapy sessions. She said Samantha made much improvement and is able to walk with more control.
The last time the Greens were in town, Samantha was represented by the Fully Invested Foundation as one of their Thursday’s Heroes for Football.
Green said they toured the BYU facilities and attended the football team’s practice. The team circled around Samantha and cheered for her.
“I felt that they sincerely meant that we were part of the BYU football team,” Green said. “In the picture from the event you can see the football player’s faces and they were all smiling.”
Green said their experience was so successful the family returned for a second therapy session. Samantha wears a suit that uses bungees to create resistance and improve her patterns of movement.
“The therapy helps the whole body,” Green said. “Samantha breathes better and is more verbal.”
Christensen said many families must pay for the therapy because their insurance does not cover the cost. Grants are provided by the organization, but families also raise funds on their own. Now I Can is holding a Run to Walk event in May to raise money for patients. The race costs $15 and breakfast and T-shirt are provided. Students can participate by visiting runtowalk.com.