Pediatric Rehabilitation & Spinal Cord Injury Team Helps Patient Learn to Walk Again

Blog

When Jaszelina was a toddler, her mother noticed that her balance and ability to walk was declining.  Only days shy of her second birthday, doctors diagnosed her with a type of spinal cord tumor called an astrocytoma. Jaszelina underwent a complicated and risky surgery to remove the 10-inch tumor from her upper spine. After the surgery, doctors told her mother Shawna that Jaszelina needed specialty spinal rehabilitation care and referred her to the pediatric rehabilitation program at Shriners Hospitals for Children — Northern California.

“We are so thankful for the expert care and all the support we received from Shriners,” said Shawna. “It was a difficult rehabilitation process, but today Jaszelina can focus on being a kid … and also the moon and the stars.”

The Northern California Shriners Hospital is known for its pediatric rehabilitation program and spinal cord injury program that’s comprised of a multidisciplinary team of spine surgeons, neurologists, orthopaedic surgeons, pediatric physiatrists, physical therapists, occupational therapists, urologists, social workers and other specialists who provide care for complex spinal cord injury patients.

At two years old and just three short days after her surgery, Jaszelina came to the Northern California Shriners Hospital at which point Medical Director for the Pediatric Rehabilitation and Spinal Cord Injury Program Dr. Loren Davidson, M.D., took the lead in providing her care. According to Shawna, those first few months of recovery were the most difficult for Jaszelina.  She was not able to hold her head up straight for very long and needed help to hold her balance while sitting.  She could not stand or walk.  At such a young age, Jaszelina did not understand being in the hospital. 

“She was very shy and scared of anyone who would come into the room wearing a white coat,” said Shawna. “Dr. Davidson and the whole team did everything they could to make Jaszelina more comfortable. Those first days, Dr. Davidson would always send a social worker in before he entered the room, so Jaszelina would be more comfortable.”

The therapists and care managers at Shriners Hospitals for Children — Northern California continued to support Jaszelina after discharge by coordinating her community care for therapy with California Children Services. Jaszelina frequently saw physicians and therapists in the outpatient clinic who monitored her recovery and made sure her development was on-course. They had her walking within three months of her first visit. The learning process began with braces and over time, she built the strength to walk on her own again.

Today Jaszelina is fully mobile, walks, jumps and runs around the playground with her friends. Dr. Davidson and Jaszelina’s clinical team will continue to follow her as she matures into adulthood. She is currently a six-year-old girl with big brown eyes and long brown hair that often hangs in expertly crafted braids, a result of her mom’s handiwork. Jaszelina is initially quiet around strangers until someone asks her about one thing in particular – Minecraft.

“My world has movie theatres, underground roads, a police station and lots of animals,” said Jaszelina describing her Minecraft world. The intricate Minecraft world she constructed came without any help from her parents. Jaszelina enjoys showing people her expansive Minecraft house and introducing them to her many pet horses and dogs who all have been given special names from her.

Jaszelina is a curious little girl who loves exploring the outdoors and looking up to the sky.

She frequently asks her mom questions like, “Where’s the moon tonight?” Her curiosity for life and strength are admirable – yet another patient cared for at the Northern California Shriners Hospital who has turned impossibility into possibility and sees no limits for her future.