Community and Employee Gifts Help Patients Make Big Strides

Rehabilitation Services
“It’s such a joy to watch the parents’ expression when they see their child walk or move for the first time. It gives them the ounce of hope they need to believe that their child may walk like a ‘typical’ child someday.”

CentraCare – Long Prairie Physical Therapist Megan Tessman, DPT, sees the difference community and employee gifts make every day.

Elizabeth on gait trainerWhile her department had a gait trainer and adult-sized harness to help her adult patients learn to walk again, she advocated to have similar equipment for her pediatric patients. When the annual budget did not allow for this purchase, CentraCare – Long Prairie leadership elected to use community and employee gifts designated to CentraCare – Long Prairie’s Greatest Needs fund to make this important purchase. 

The new pediatric-sized harness arrived early last summer and is making a big impact on the young patients and staff.

When patients are using the gait trainer and harness, they feel safer and more supported when trying to walk. It also reduces the toll on the therapist because without the harness they would have to hold the patient upright when trying to help them walk. When the patient is in the harness, it gives the physical therapist two hands to move the patient’s legs in a walking motion.

Consuelo Ayala Zamora has seen the difference this new equipment has made for her 5-year-old daughter, Elizabeth, who receives therapy twice a week for global developmental delay. Elizabeth participates in one therapy session each week in the pool and the other day on the gait trainer. 

“This new equipment has slowly helped to build her leg strength, so she is able to move around at home more easily,” shared Consuelo. “She enjoys going to her therapy sessions and usually naps well after each one. Overall, she’s happy and rarely cries.” 

“I believe the increase in her strength has helped her body fight off other illnesses, too,” added Elizabeth’s nurse, Malissa. “She also has become more vocal which is common in children with increased gross motor skills.”

Elizabeth also uses an adaptive bike at school which has helped her gain leg strength as well.

“It’s such a joy to watch the parent’s expression when they see their child walk or move for the first time. It gives them the ounce of hope they need to believe that their child may walk like a ‘typical’ child someday,” said Megan. “Thanks to community giving, we get to witness these first steps and help our patients learn to walk.”

Community gifts also helped to purchase the treadmill which is used in conjunction with the adult or pediatric harness to help patients of all ages walk on the treadmill. The pool at Vitality Wellness, which is used for physical therapy patients, was also funded through gifts received during the Wellness Wins campaign in 2017-2019.

“The purchase of this equipment at this time would not have been possible without community giving,” shared Megan. “I am grateful every day for these gifts.”

Watch a short video of Elizabeth during a therapy session using the Pediatric Harness and treadmill purchased with the Long Prairie Greatest Needs funds in 2023.