R.H. Barnett always puts his best efforts into physical therapy and occupational therapy at Children’s Health.
His hard work inspires other people, and those people formed a team for the Alliance Data Red Balloon Run & Ride. That team raised more than $36,000 in 2016 to buy therapeutic play stations at Children’s Health.
The Dallas 4-year-old uses his sessions to beat back the limits of cerebral palsy by working with Children’s Health therapists on swings in the sensory gym, at a desk working on fine motor skills and in a new specially built pool for patients working to improve their mobility. His training helps him prep for each year’s Alliance Data Red Balloon Run and Ride, a 5K run and bike rally that allows teams to raise money for Children’s Health. This year’s Red Balloon Run and Ride takes off from the Children’s Health Plano campus on April 21.
R.H.’s tireless embrace of each chance to keep moving has been a source inspiration for his team and a joy for his parents.
“He’s the happiest kid I ever met in my life. He just bursts with joy,” R.H.’s father, Michael Barnett, said. “He has every reason to be frustrated and angry, but he’s the opposite.”
As the Barnetts spoke, Children’s Health physical therapist Nikki Pham worked with R.H., gently nudging his feet a little closer inward and keeping her hands on his hips to keep them aligned.
It seems like painstaking work, but R.H. never takes it that way. He enjoys every session.
The pool R.H. uses is one of several new, state-of-the-art pieces of equipment that makes Children’s Gait and Mobility Program one of only three of its kind in the country. When the pool floor lowers, R.H. excitedly crouches down to meet the water as it rushes in from all sides.
“He loves how the floor of the pool adjusts and automatically submerges into the pool water at whatever depth his therapist decides. He thinks it’s magic!” Mrs. Barnett said. “He’s been working on hip stabilization, lower-body strengthening, learning to kick and how to jump and push off the ground.”
In recent pool therapy, he worked his way up to step on and over a submerged box and toward a beach ball that floated in front of him. Therapists make each session feel like play, and the sessions have built life changing abilities for R.H.
“He was completely immobile when he started, and he was a nearly a year old, so he should have been at least crawling,” Mr. Barnett said. “Now he can walk independently, climb stairs and play appropriately with his toys. He’s so much happier because he can do so much more.”
The pool and three other major pieces of equipment were purchased with funding from the Crystal Charity Ball. The functionality they offer are complimented by therapeutic play stations purchased by funding from R.H.’s Red Balloon Run and Ride team. They are something of a ripple effect of his constant efforts to improve.
“The little victories matter so much to us because for him they’re big victories,” Mr. Barnett said.