Seven-year-old Sydnee is quite the performer. As part of a competitive dance team, she dances four times a week, performing tap, ballet, jazz and musical theatre.
On stage, she just shines, and her mom, Mackenzie, watches in amazement.
Why? Because two years ago Sydnee had a stroke. In fact she suffered three strokes in succession without explanation.
When she arrived at Holland Bloorview, Sydnee used a wheelchair, and couldn’t say anything other than “hello.” She was enrolled in physiotherapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy and over the next few months Mackenzie and her husband, Blair, watched their daughter come back to them.
Within the first week Sydnee began to move her legs. In less than a month, she was out of her wheelchair and able to stand on her own and walk short distances. By six weeks she no longer needed a wheelchair.
Sydnee also spent time with a Child Life Specialist who helped her better understand what happened to her, and helped her work through her emotions. Another program that has made a huge difference was Holland Bloorview’s Helping Hand program which helped Sydnee regain movement and function in her right hand.
Helping Hand is a specialized therapy program offered at Holland Bloorview that involves casting the child’s unimpacted hand, so that she was encouraged to use her weaker hand. The program also included two-handed activities to encourage Sydnee to use both hands together.
Progress was slow, but obvious. “The Helping Hand program helped for sure,” says Mackenzie. “She’s thinking about using her hand more. Before she would forget about it and just use her left hand,” adds Mackenzie, who smiles when she watches Sydnee do the simplest things with her right hand, like open up a marker.
Thanks to Holland Bloorview, Sydnee’s parents are enthusiastically using their hands to applaud their daughter’s remarkable performances.