“I simply wanted the best for my child, so we went to Gillette Children’s for an Infant and Toddler Development Evaluation,” says Dalia Prieto.
Her son, Ernesto, was born prematurely at 24 weeks, and spent the early days of his life in a neonatal intensive care unit in a Minneapolis hospital.
“I was a first-time mom,” Dalia recalls. “I really didn’t know what to expect and everything was so new.”
Shortly after he was born, Ernesto was diagnosed with cerebral palsy (CP), which describes a group of disorders that affect a person’s ability to move and maintain balance. CP is caused by a brain injury or atypical brain development that happens at birth or in early life.
Gillette Children’s Cerebral Palsy Institute is the world’s foremost innovator in clinical care, research, and patient advocacy. It brings together more than 140 specialists and insights from 100 years of historical and current studies on cerebral palsy.
Helping children with cerebral palsy thrive
Dalia and her primary pediatrician knew Ernesto would need the services of a strong medical team to help him thrive and reach his potential.
The first step for Dalia and Ernesto was an Infant and Toddler Development Evaluation appointment at Gillette.
When Ernesto was about six months old, Dalia took him to meet with Gillette experts who are specialists in the identification of developmental delays. This team includes a physiatrist (often called a physical medicine and rehabilitation (PMR) physician), neurologists, and trained therapists. These experts analyze the results of multiple assessments and work with families to create a comprehensive treatment plan.
Care and treatment for Ernesto
“The team at Gillette answered my questions and outlined the services Ernesto would need,” Dalia says. “It was a relief.”
Ernesto is now 2-years-old and meets regularly with an occupational therapist, a physical therapist, a speech therapist, a neurologist, and his care is overseen by pediatric and rehabilitation medicine physician (PMR), Mark Gormley, Jr., MD.
“I love coming to Gillette,” Dalia says. “I enjoy the therapists and they do a great job of telling me what they’re working on with Ernesto and how I can help him at home.”
Expert, compassionate therapists make a difference
Ernesto’s occupational therapist (OT), Kathleen Maroney, has been working with him for over a year.
“As an occupational therapist, I am trained to look at the whole child,” Maroney says. “I assess each child to see where they are functioning in the expected developmental areas of fine motor, adaptive behaviors, such as regulation and sensory processing. I also look at self-care skills such as feeding, dressing, grooming and physical processing,” Maroney adds.
“Ernesto is a delight! He works hard and is very social,” Maroney says.
Convenience for families
The Prieto family lives in the Minneapolis suburb of Burnsville and are grateful Gillette has clinics that are convenient to their home.
“We come to the Burnsville clinic a lot and I’m glad I don’t have to drive far for Ernesto to see his therapists,” Dalia says.
Occupational therapist Katheen Maroney wants families and referring providers to know Gillette will work to make care and therapy as convenient as possible.
“We have satellites in Maple Grove, St. Paul, Burnsville, and Mankato. We can also do virtual care and will collaborate with school providers to help meet that child’s needs,” Maroney says.
Devoted parents and providers make a strong team
Ernesto is getting stronger, and he enjoys zooming his gait trainer around the Gillette Burnsville therapy gym under the guidance of physical therapist, Katherine Kaiser.
Kaiser makes the hard work of building muscles and learning how to walk fun. She gives Ernesto bells to ring and entices him to walk farther by blowing bubbles and placing toys around the gym.
Both Maroney and Kaiser say watching children progress makes their work rewarding.
“Ernesto has parents who are very dedicated to improving his abilities and they follow through by doing at home exercises with him,” Maroney says.
“Being able to watch his growth and improvement has been a gift," Maroney adds. "It’s rewarding to be able to work with families who come to Gillette for early intervention, and they connect with a strong, expert team to help meet their child’s needs.”
Your next step
To learn more about how the Gillette Infant and Toddler Development Evaluation team can help your child, call 651-877-6131 or fill out our online appointment request form.