Therapy Helps 12-Year-Old Start Long Road Back

Katie Branson's routine is as inspiring as it is grueling.
Four hours every day. A therapist putting her through repeated motions.

It's also the beginning of a long road back for this young girl. Two years ago, she was a very active outgoing 10 year old.

"She was a tomboy," says her mother Michelle Branson. "She was very outgoing."

That active life came to an abrupt, almost permanent end.

It all started with her coming down with the flu. Then an infection raced through her body, attacking her heart, stopping it at one point, leaving her brain without oxygen.

Doctors were able to save her life, but the damage left her unable to speak, walk, even move on her own. The pathways that allow her brain to control her muscles were destroyed. Now with a therapist help at Advanced Pediatric Therapies in Sparks each repeated movement, they're slowly being restored.

What makes this physical therapy different from other programs is its intensity. Four hours, four days a week for four weeks.

Therapist Dr. Lesley Marcacci says it's the hours of repeated motions that makes the difference. "It takes a lot more repetitions," she says.

And it's paying off. After one week, Dr. Marcacci sees progress.

"She's starting to use her legs more."

This kind of therapy is not only intensive. It's expensive. In this case, an organization called Jamies Dream Team is picking up the check.

This non-profit was founded by Jamie Helms who knows first hand the suffering a serious medical condition can bring to a child like Katie. She was born with a rare genetic disorder that has made her endure 30 surgeries in her young life.

Monday she came from Pennsylvania to see Katie's progress.

"Just seeing her start to move her legs," says Helms, "is amazing."

There will be some long difficult days, a lot of hard work ahead, but those she's working with at Advanced Pediatric Therapies, say she's made a good start.

"She's very motivated," says Marcacci. "She wants to move. She just doesn't know how yet."

"She wants to recover her life," says her mother. "She wants to be the person she was."


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