Callie J This Girl is “on Fire”!

“Callie used to be embarrassed of using her equipment,” said Amanda. ”She is now so happy to use it and can’t wait to get to therapy every week, race to the toy closet, and pick something out.”

Four-year-old Callie June is the life of the party and will talk to anyone who will listen. Her passion for playtime is evident as she loves being outside, playing doctor and chef in her pretend kitchen, and singing her favorite song, Girl on Fire, by Alicia Keys. Callie lives at home with her parents, her older brother, and several furry friends - two dogs and three cats.

Callie faced a challenging start in life at nine days old when she suffered a brain bleed, which resulted in an intracranial hemorrhage. This caused her to develop hydrocephalus and epilepsy, ultimately requiring a shunt. Callie's parents were unsure of what to expect, given the extent of damage caused by her brain bleed. Her mother, Amanda, who works as a speech pathologist, understood the complexity of her daughter's condition and knew that there could be future complications.

Callie JuneAt four-months-old, her parents saw that Callie was missing milestones. She could only look, roll, and move to one side, prompting her parents to seek early intervention services at an infant sensory gym. When it came time for her to walk, Callie’s early intervention physical therapist suggested she use a posterior walker and a convey cruiser stroller. He also suggested they look into the Rehabilitation Technology (rehab tech) services at Children’s Specialized Hospital (CSH) in New Brunswick.

“We came to CSH in January 2023 for rehab tech services, and I was so impressed with the beautiful facility and how much everyone paid attention to the small details,” said Amanda. “I thought we would just go and try out a couple of walkers and leave, but to my surprise, she received personalized care and equipment, making a significant difference in her mobility.”

Callie JuneAmanda recalls the day the family went to pick up Callie’s walker. The technicians ensured that all Callie’s equipment was customized to fit her comfortably and efficiently. That was the first time Callie used equipment without her parents holding on and assisting her.

If Callie had not received that personalized experience at CSH, her parents don’t know where she would be today. “That moment changed everything for me,” said Amanda. She didn’t walk. She ran down the hall, and seeing her have that independence was one of the best moments ever for her and me.”

Shortly after receiving rehab tech services, Callie aged out of early intervention services at the sensory gym leaving the family struggling to find a place for her that could help her thrive. That’s when Amanda turned to CSH for outpatient services.

After just four months of therapy at CSH, Amanda has seen considerable improvements in Callie’s mobility. “The therapy at Children’s is just so different,” said Amanda. “They consider what I have to say and include us in every step of the process.”

Callie JuneCallie recently took her first four independent steps using her canes. Amanda expressed joy over seeing Callie's pride and sense of accomplishment. She is happy to see that Callie has become increasingly independent since coming to CSH. Amanda's biggest hope for Callie is that she will become fully independent and eventually walk without assistance.

“Callie started physical therapy here at Children's Specialized right after Halloween. She dressed up as ‘a girl on fire’ because of the song ‘Girl on Fire’ which she loves to sing,” said CSH physical therapist, Madigan. “We have been working on Callie's standing balance and walking with tripod canes around her house. Callie can now stand with one hand on her tripod cane while playing with toys without losing her balance. She also works hard at walking with her tripod canes and coordinating her movements, which is a big change from walking in her posterior walker. Exactly like how she sings her favorite song, Callie really is on fire!”

Coming to CSH has helped Callie not only physically but also mentally. Amanda explained that her confidence has been boosted in many ways. “Callie used to be embarrassed of using her equipment,” said Amanda. ”She is now so happy to use it and can’t wait to get to therapy every week, race to the toy closet, and pick something out.”

CSH has also made a positive impact on her family's home life. Her older brother is included in her therapy sessions, and he often initiates the games that they play in therapy at home. This approach has proven helpful in Callie's ability to transfer the skills she learns in therapy to her daily life outside of the clinical setting. It has also helped to build their strong bond, which has been beautiful for Amanda to witness.

Despite the challenges she has faced, Callie June has shown herself to be a true fighter. Her determination and progress are a testament to the impact of personalized care and therapy that children receive at CSH. With the support of her loving family and the dedicated team at CSH, Callie is on her way to achieving her dreams and becoming fully independent. The future is bright for this "girl on fire," and her story is a reminder that with hard work and the right tools and services, anything is possible.

Learn more about Pediatric Physical Therapy at Children's Specialized Hospital.