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Inch by Inch, Patient Progresses in Developmental Journey

KJ’s story

Kaden Jo (KJ) loves to make others smile. Though still a toddler, KJ possesses an inherent talent for inducing happiness in those around him, and will put on a performance for anyone he meets.

“KJ seems to learn new skills and shows them off to his aunties and any other volunteers, visitors or students,” said his mom, Nicole.

KJ regularly entertains his “aunties” in the physical therapy (PT) department at Shriners Hospitals for Children — Honolulu, where he has been a patient since he was 1 month old.

KJ was born breeched with bilateral hip dysplasia. In addition, he was diagnosed with Prader-Willi syndrome, a condition that causes global developmental delay issues. Upon the recommendation of their family physician, Nicole and her husband, Kevin, arrived at the Honolulu Shriners Hospital in July 2019 seeking services for their son.

Immediately, the ‘ohana (family) felt a deep connection and knew they had found a special place for their son to receive the specialized care he needed. “The whole atmosphere of this hospital is kid-friendly and welcoming to all. It is a safe place to receive not only care for a child with special needs, but the true spirit of aloha is shared by the staff,” Nicole said.

A key member of KJ’s health care team is pediatric orthopaedic surgeon Jonathan Pellett, M.D., who Nicole says does a “great job explaining possible conditions we need to look out for that could develop in the future.”

However, the family’s favorite destination is the physical therapy department, where physical therapist Kanoe Hook, D.P.T., makes strengthening exercises fun and exciting. Nicole expressed her appreciation for Kanoe’s detailed feedback on how KJ is progressing and what she and Kevin can do to keep him on his developmental journey. “We love our PT visits! Each member of our family gets the support and encouragement we need to keep moving forward,” Nicole said.

Indeed, KJ shines during his PT sessions. With each visit, he gains strength through exercises customized to his current developmental levels. He also gets to make new friends. “We have many aunties to visit when we go for PT – we are so blessed!” Nicole said. “Everyone is very helpful with KJ. They all offer so much encouragement and support.”

On the occasion KJ needs an extra bit of motivation, the PT team calls in the hospital’s Chief of Snuggles – Zadoc, a yellow Labrador retriever who serves as the Honolulu Shriners Hospital’s full-time hospital facility dog. “KJ will inch his way toward Zadoc,” Nicole said. “They had an instant connection.”

As KJ continues to grow and develop, so will his care with Shriners Hospitals for Children — Honolulu, with the goal that he will be able to achieve his dreams, without limits. He already has found a love for swimming, books and music. Most of all, KJ enjoys being around friends and family, including those from his Shriners Hospital ‘ohana.

“This will be a place where the staff becomes your family. They will take care of you,” Nicole said.

Kaden in therapy

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