Taryn G Youngest of five siblings, favorite color is purple

Taryn’s Special Spirit Inspires Everyone She Meets

Taryn Garriques has been through a lot in her six years. Her mother, Kathleen, was pregnant with twins and gave birth to Taryn at just 30 weeks – 10 weeks premature. Sadly, her twin sister Destiny did not survive. Taryn was diagnosed with periventricular leukomalacia, or white matter in the brain, which may have occurred due to twin to twin transfusion syndrome in utero. The diagnosis of spastic diplegia cerebral palsy came within the first year of life. However, this young fighter does not let the challenges that come with cerebral palsy interfere with being an everyday kid!

Cerebral Palsy is a neurological disorder, in which there is injury to the part of the brain that controls muscle movement. It can occur in the womb, at birth or up to 3 years of age. The most common cause is complications of premature delivery resulting in either lack of sufficient oxygen to the brain or bleeding into the brain. Forms of cerebral palsy range from mild to severe. Spastic diplegia cerebral palsy is likely to affect the legs of a patient more than the arms. The gait or walking pattern, of a child with spastic diplegia cerebral palsy is typically recognized with a crouched gait. Toe walking and flexed knees are common characteristics and can be corrected with proper treatment.

The family consulted with doctor Richard Anderson, neurosurgeon, regarding a recommended surgical procedure for Taryn to permanently reduce her tone from spastic diplegia. She was scheduled to have a Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy (SDR) on 10/10/14. Even before Taryn had surgery, the family came to look at the New Brunswick facility of Children’s Specialized Hospital, knowing Taryn would be transferred there after the surgery for intense rehabilitation. Kathleen was very impressed with the hospital right from the beginning. Kathleen said, “Taryn was excited she would be going to a place like PSE&G Children’s Specialized Hospital.” Taryn was excited because even though her stay was for rehabilitation, PSE&G Children’s Specialized Hospital is a warm and welcoming place for children and families, with kind staff. Taryn said, “It looks like a fun place to be.”

taryn smiling

Dr. Michele Fantasia, director of the spinal cord injury and general rehabilitation program at PSE&G Children’s Specialized Hospital, followed Taryn’s intense rehabilitation. “Taryn made very nice progress during her inpatient stay, with a transition to outpatient therapies for continued progress," said Dr. Fantasia.

Taryn’s physical therapist, Sarah Dubois, DPT, agreed, “Taryn initially came in and had difficulty with standing and walking. As she developed more strength and we worked on her movement patterns, she eventually started standing at a support surface. Once she was able to sustain weight through her legs for longer periods of time, we were able to progress to using a walker to start walking. As her balance improved, we were then able to transition to use of crutches instead of the walker.”

Taryn was consistently focused on the goals established to improve walking.

“We focused a lot on her core strength, as well as strengthening her legs. We did a lot of hands on work with Taryn in order to improve her motor patterns so that she would not go back to her previous patterns,” said Sarah.

Although sometimes at therapy, “Taryn may get a little cranky,” Kathleen reminds Taryn that “It’s not an option, doing the stretches is a necessity.” With the progress Taryn has made, “she has a desire to show others what she can do.” Kathleen particularly notices that if Taryn has a special event to go to, Taryn wants to show others how much her walking has improved. The daily stretches and exercises she does, as well as the wonderful therapy she received at PSE&G Children’s Specialized Hospital have already produced amazing improvements in Taryn’s motor function.

Overall, Taryn had a great attitude about the rehabilitation program.

teryn clapping

“Taryn enjoyed almost everything we did, as long as we were able to incorporate some kind of game in to it,” said Sarah. “She was, most of the time, very tolerate and cooperate of all the developmental positions and transitions we asked her complete or put her in order to increase her strength.”

The doctors and therapists at PSE&G Children’s Specialized Hospital understand that the road to recovery post surgery is not easy, it is a team effort. Dr. Fantasia stated, “The therapy ’road’ is a long one after a dorsal rhizotomy, with the true benefits not being seen for 6 months to even a year after the surgery.”

Sarah also emphasized, “Family involvement is so important, as the patients are spending most of their time with their families and not in therapy. So we do a lot of training with the families in order to carryover the patient skills into their daily lives.” The Garriques are a great example to other families, and are actively involved with Taryn’s continued progress.

Before surgery, Taryn got around by crawling the majority of the time, but that didn’t stop her playful spirit. Taryn often exclaimed, “Mom watch me do a cart wheel!” as she spun around on her knees. She truly feels she can do anything – and she continues to prove that she can.

Currently, Taryn is attending kindergarten in a mainstream classroom. Although it may take some extra effort at times, “Taryn is having no difficulties,” and is completing what is expected at school.

Taryn has four siblings, and always wants to “keep up” with what the family can do. Taryn’s favorite activities include playing games, doing crafts, using her imagination to pretend, and playing outside Kathleen expressed, that Taryn does not “feel restricted” by cerebral palsy. Taryn has a special spirit and truly touches the lives of anyone she meets. Taryn certainly inspires all to never give up.