Stand, Dance, and Splash! Capri Eckonen’s Story (Cerebral Palsy)

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    Using a standing frame while watching TV can help keep kids entertained.Capri Eckonen is a happy nine year old girl who loves listening to music and being in the water. She was born with Cerebral Palsy and other medical conditions, but remains very healthy.  This is due in large part to having proactive grandparents who take great care of her and provide her the equipment that she needs.  “My wife, Diana of thirty-seven years and I are her caregivers.  She is very happy and healthy, despite her challenges,” Tom, her grandfather comments.  Part of Capri’s therapy includes standing in her EasyStand.  Tom adds, “We knew standing was important, so we have kept Capristanding from the beginning.  She used to have a homemade stander, then we decided to get the Magician because of the sit to stand feature.”

    A Special Family
    Capri’s dad and step mom live inNorth Carolina and she has two half brothers. Tom remembers, “We watched her while her dad (our son) finished his obligation to the navy. After two months with us she cried when they took her. My son then gave us custody which was the right move for everyone, especiallyCapri.” Capri has been living with her grandparents, Tom and Diana, inPennsylvania ever since.

    Standing at Home & School
    Capri stands at home three evenings a week for forty-five minutes each time. She also uses a stander at school three times a week for thirty minutes each time. Tom, Capri’s grandfather, explains, “At school she spends part of her time in a regular classroom and the rest of her day in the special education room where the standing equipment is located.” School therapists create standing programs based on the child’s diagnosis and abilities, and then they communicate it to the other staff members.” Tom adds, “The therapist showsCapri’s teacher and aids what to do so they can help her during school.”

    Benefits Seen & Un-seen
    “We really enjoy seeing her stand up and she seems to enjoy standing. Being severely mentally challenged it is hard to tell what effect it has on her psychologically,” Tom says. Usually with children like Capri, the physical benefits of standing are more obvious than the psychological benefits.  “She needs to bear her own weight to strengthen her leg muscles. Using the EasyStand also helps her trunk control and head control,” Tom adds.

    Funding Through an Organization
    Capri’s EasyStand stander was paid for by the Arc of Crawford County. The Arc advocates for the rights of citizens who are mentally challenged, enhancing their lives by promoting maximum independence and affording them opportunities for enrichment in their communities. “We chose to purchase the Magician because of the sit to stand feature and we love that it is easy to use. She can sit both before and after standing,” Tom admits.

    Having Fun!
    Capri is not able to do many things that some other kids can, but she loves music and water.  “When Capri stands we roll her close to the TV and she tries to dance to the country music that is playing,” Tom says.  One of Capri’s favorite things to do is take a trip to the pool.  He adds, “She kicks her legs constantly when in a pool or even while in the shower.” Diana and Tom even contacted the Make a Wish Foundation onCapri’s behalf and it was successful.  “She will be getting a health spa as her wish or should I say our wish for her!”  Tom exclaims. “There are two main reasons for the spa, one the warm water will help to soothe her muscles, and two she loves being in water!”

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