Determined to push forward

With her determination and spirit, 5-year-old Ella has melted many hearts at United Services.

Ella could only crawl when she arrived here three years ago. Since then, we have watched her learn to stand and walk – assisted by her pink, wheeled walker and her physical therapist, Allison.

Ella has cerebral palsy, which has given her core weakness, especially in her abdominal and back muscles. It has also given her increased muscle tone in her legs, making her muscles tight.

Allison began working with Ella in January 2017. At first, Allison would sit on a wheeled stool in front of Ella’s walker, rolling in step wit

h Ella, guiding her forward. Now Allison stands a few steps back from the walker, allowing Ella to make her own way.

“She has made a lot of progress,” Allison said. “A year ago, she could only walk in a straight line, and she leaned forward while walking. Now she can turn corners by herself and stand up straight as she walks.”

Ella will begin practicing walking with canes next year. In the meantime, she will continue working to build her core strength. Allison said her long-range goal is for Ella to walk as independently as possible.

“She is starting to notice the other kids around her who are walking without walkers,” Allison said. “That is making her motivated to progress with her walking. She is pushing harder.”

As a pre-walking skill builder, Ella practices “cruising.” During this exercise, she walks around a table while holding onto its edge. At other times, Allison will hold Ella’s hands and pelvis as she practices walking without a walker. If she stumbles a little, Ella says “I’m ok” and presses on.

“She’s very sweet, but very determined,” Allison said.