Dx Cerebral Palsy: Sara Success Story
After 12 years in a wheel chair Sara fights to be free
Every time that Sara arrives at The Institutes she works out on the overhead ladder
The beginning of Sara’s life
Our daughter was born 25 years ago in Empoli, Italy. It was a difficult birth, I had a preeclampsia with an internal haemorrhage. We knew that our little daughter was in trouble. Shortly after birth, Sara was diagnosed with “Spastic Cerebral Palsy”.
In the first two years of her life Sara couldn’t walk, she had difficulty sitting and she really could not even move. During those early years we brought her to the best qualified doctors in Italy who specialized in cerebral palsy without getting any satisfactory results.
Their conclusion was always the same - Sara would never improve and she would live out her life in a wheel chair.
Mother holding Sara up to sit otherwise she would fall over
Sara and her family get to know The Institutes
We were always looking for something different to escape the wheelchair. We felt deep down in our hearts that we could do something more for our daughter. One day I read about the program of The Institutes in a magazine. The article explained how the program worked as a treatment to help brain-injured children. The program relied on stimulation of the brain and providing opportunity to use the stimulation through developmental stages of movement.
When Sara was ten years old we decided to enroll in the course “What To Do About Your Brain-injured Child” in Italy at The Institutes for the Achievement of Human Potential in Europe. At the end of the course, we were really enthusiastic about everything we had learned. In particular, we understood that in the near future Sara’s life could be much better and by stimulating the injured areas of her brain this could lead Sara to the potential she had at the moment of her birth. Effective stimulation could activate the compromised areas so those areas could begin to do what they could not do before.
We decided to start the program.
The auditorium of The Institutes where the lectures of the course are given.
Sara’s challenge and the first visit to The Institutes
After the course we decided to do the program at home for a year. Her first visit to The Institutes was when she was 12 years old. From the very beginning, we were perfectly clear: It did not matter to us what it would take but we wanted our daughter to have the same possibilities as her peers. It was not acceptable to us that Sara would be watching others grow and do all the things she was not able to do.
After a short period of time, with an intense program created at The Institutes, Sara started to crawl and for us it was already something wonderful considering she never moved on her own until that time.
Sara while crawling independently for the first time
Sara on The Intensive Program
For Sara, moving has always been a physical challenge. Unfortunately, Sara was already 12 years old when she started the program at The Institutes. She had not made any physical progress up to that age. With an intense program of stimulation and new opportunities Sara started slithering and crawling. After a short time within a few months she constantly improved in quality and quantity.
After 2 years Sara started walking independently under the overhead ladder for the first time (in an environment created for her). This represented an incredible achievement for her considering that at the age of 14 she was able to feel the sensation of taking steps and moving without any help from us for the very first time.
Sara taking steps for the first time under the overhead ladder
Feeling good and improving one step at a time
Sara’s motor problems at the beginning of the program were many but with the help of the staff of The Institutes we dealt with them with tenacity and faith. Year after year, thanks to new and targeted programs, Sara has achieved surprising results. Sara’s life motto has always been: “Improve and feel good - one step at a time.” She always wanted to get to the next visit (every six months) with an improvement compared to the previous visit. One of Sara’s biggest problems in being able to walk was to correct problems created by her years of rigidity. Every day she spent hours doing a deep tactile stimulation program, a unique bone-modeling technique, biofeedback, and restorative yoga. And throughout this time she was always improving her crawling and walking using many different environments created for her by the staff. She never gave up she was always determined no matter how big the challenge she met it - obtaining excellent results that at the beginning of the program neither Sara, nor we would have expected.
Every time that Sara arrives at The Institutes she works out on the overhead ladder
Sara’s life motto has always been: “Improve and feel good - one step at a time.” She always wanted to get to the next visit (every six months) with an improvement compared to the previous visit. One of Sara’s biggest problems in being able to walk was to correct problems created by her years of rigidity. Every day she spent hours doing a deep tactile stimulation program, a unique bone-modeling technique, biofeedback, and restorative yoga. And throughout this time she was always improving her crawling and walking using many different environments created for her by the staff. She never gave up she was always determined no matter how big the challenge she would meet it - obtaining excellent results that at the beginning of the program neither Sara, nor we would have expected.
Despite everything, the results obtained are not enough for Sara.
Her ultimate goal is to be able to walk alone and she will therefore keep working to improve more and more.
During a serious illness Sara had to spend time in the hospital
Sara and the terrible disease
At age 20 Sara had a bad lung disease. She had a delicate drainage of lung abscesses of the left lung, risking a lot (initially the doctors could not understand what was happening despite the very high fever for days). Sara therefore went through a complicated period and was hospitalized for two months.
For this reason, she was forced to interrupt the program for three months, but thanks to her willpower and tenacity, she returned stronger than before, recovering completely helped by her return to the intensive program of The Institutes (initially with a targeted program for total physical recovery). After this bad story she no longer became seriously ill and today she is healthy and has not had any diseases.
Sara and Glenn at one of the beautiful meetings with him
Sara and her meeting with Glenn Doman
We had the privilege and the good fortune of getting to know Glenn Doman on two occasions. The first time was when Sara was 15 years old on a visit to Philadelphia attending lectures in the Valentine Auditorium on the campus of The Institutes. The other meeting was during the celebration of the 30th anniversary of The Institutes in Fauglia, Italy. It was an enormously emotional to be with Glenn and being able to hug him and talk to him. We will never forget the beautiful emotions we felt.
“Trees” one of many works done by Sara shown recently in a public art exhibit
Sara’s social, intellectual goals and beyond
Although Sara has huge physical problems, intellectually her abilities were in step with her peers, if not superior. Since joining the program, Sara has now reached a surprising level: • She has passed all her school exams (middle and high school) with excellent marks. • She is able to read from 500 to 600 words per minute. • She reads and understands well in four languages: Italian, English, French and Spanish, she also learning a little Chinese. • She has read 2,840 books since she began the program. • She has written 84 poems.
Sara continues to work to create her own life plan for her future. She wants to work in the library of her city or in the historical office. In fact, her request has already been accepted and she is on the waiting list. Sara continues to take singing lessons.
At Sara’s most recent art exhibition several months ago all works were sold.
Above all she has successfully completed her third Art Exhibit where she showed more than 40 paintings (she has now shown over 100 paintings total in three exhibitions). Incredibly, all the works shown were sold - a very successful exhibition by any artist’s standard.
Television Interview: Sara answers questions about her life and her work at her latest art exhibition.
Finally, Sara continues to work hard to do her best to become increasingly independent in her everyday life. She is now going down steps independently. Obviously, her ultimate goal is to walk alone.
What was the best thing about the program?
“The best thing about the program was seeing significant changes in mobility and achieving important results in social and intellectual life”.
Do you have any advice for children who are on the program?
“With this program you always have goals to achieve to improve your life. It must be done with tenacity and believe in what you do. It is the only way to improve and be patient, you will definitely notice the results”.
Why do you think the program is so important?
“The program helps brain-injured children to improve the quality of their life”.