Children that suffer from cerebral palsy and other brain disorders will now be able to get cutting edge treatment in the Star City with Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute’s new Neuromotor Research Clinic.
“It’s a program that is dedicated to making major advances in understanding and applying the most effective rehabilitative treatments for restoring function to the brain or for improved body control, movement, and posture that can result from a variety of causes,” says Michal Friedlander, executive director of the Research Institute.
Jack Goldberg from Ottawa, Ontario, Canada is a young boy who comes to Roanoke to get therapy. The therapy lasts for six to seven hours a day, five days a week for three or four weeks and the therapists go where he’s staying so it’s more of a real world scenario than being in a clinic.
He sports a bright yellow, blue, and zebra striped cast on his left arm. It goes almost all the way up to his shoulder and covers his fingertips. But unlike a cast for a broken arm, it can easily be slipped on and off.
“Well, with the cast on, I remember lots of things and then when the cast comes off, I don’t remember instantly and I start using my left hand more than my right hand.”
Jack forgot and bumped himself in the head once when he had an itchy nose, but other than that, he says the cast is O. K.
The treatment he’s receiving is part of a $4.2 million dollar grant funded by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development at the National Institutes of Health.
Research Clinic Director Sharon Ramey explained Jack’s ACQUIRE-c therapy strengthens the weaker side of his body. The kids participate in things they want to do, such as playing tennis or indoor badminton and the therapy continues at home after several weeks at the clinic.
Jack’s mom, Whitney Fox, says they used to travel to the U. S. for treatment when they lived in the Netherlands. Since Roanoke recruited the research team of Sharon Ramey and Stephanie DeLuca, they’ll now be coming here.
“We’re just so grateful that the therapy exists.” She says she would go anywhere in the world to get treatment to help her son.
Yvonne Maddox from the NIH thanked the families participating in the research. “Their intellectual capacity to understand what their child or what their family might be experiencing serves as a resource for other families and individuals early on.”
The clinic can treat two or three children ages two to eight each month, but they eventually hope to increase to as many as 10 a month.
Ramey says, “The face and future of therapies and intervention and practice is changing. You’ve got to take creative ideas about the nervous system.”
“Our Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute is doing the basic research. We do the clinical services but all the children and their families have agreed to be part of research.”
They’re also training the next generation of therapists in conjunction with the Jefferson College of Health Sciences. Ramey and DeLuca hope to extend their research to babies next year, if they receive another grant.
– Beverly Amsler