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Brace Helps Port Chester Child With Spina Bifida Stand

Shaun Lopez is standing for the first time.
Shaun Lopez is standing for the first time. Photo Credit: Contributed

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. -- A new custom brace is allowing a 1-year-old with spina bifida stand for the first time at White Plains' Children's Rehabilitation Center.

Each year, nearly 4,000 children receive innovative therapeutic services at the Children’s Rehabilitation Center, a comprehensive rehabilitation facility located in White Plains, representatives said.

"The care that these children receive in this outpatient clinic is unlike anywhere else, resulting in outcomes that can be nothing short of life-changing for a child and their family," representatives said. "Shaun Lopez’s experience is one of those cases."

Shaun is a 1-year-old boy from Port Chester with spina bifida, paralysis from the thoracic and severe Kyphosis, curvature of the thoracic vertebrae, representatives said. His condition meant that Shaun had to lay horizontally in a sleeping position, officials said.

“We want to make Shaun as healthy and happy as possible and to do that, we have to stimulate him," said Dr. Maria A. Pici, medical director at the Children’s Rehabilitation Center. "We have to help him grow. We knew we had to find a way to build up his strength and give him as much potential for standing as possible."

Pici and the physical therapy staff at the center, with the help of JK Orthotics & Prosthetics in Mount Vernon, spent six months designing and engineering a custom brace to encourage Shaun's body to grow and to build his muscles.

“He loved it," Pici said. “He’s used to lying down all the time, but with the brace on he could be upright and look around … he was so interested and happy."

For the long-term, using a brace to help Shaun stand will benefit him into adulthood, Pici said.

“The strength that this builds will help him perform upper extremity activities in the future,” she said, adding that it might also prevent Shaun from developing diseases secondary to his diagnoses, like infections, cardiac issues and lung problems. "The more endurance he can build up, the longer he can stand, and the more he’ll grow. That’s the point. And we’re going to get there.”

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