Life-Changing Progress with Casa Samaritano

Physical therapy helps Miguel achieve his goals.
June 12, 2017 - Nicaragua

Miguel and his mother in front of their home

Seven months ago, with the help of therapists at NPH Nicaragua’s Casa Samaritano, Miguel* began to walk.

Miguel is six years old and began his therapy sessions at Casa Samaritano in May of 2012. He has been diagnosed with Down syndrome and psychomotor disabilities. Miguel lives with his mother and two older sisters in a rural area of the Island of Ometepe, in a brick house with a metal roof and earthen floor. Francisco’s father died about seven months ago, and his mother and sister take care of him while his oldest sister works to provide for the family.

When he first started therapy, Miguel could not roll over, walk, eat, or drink by himself. “He used to cry a lot when he came to therapy,” said psychologist María Auxiliadora Rivero, who also assists with occupational therapy. He was very fearful of his surroundings and his therapist.

Now, his physical therapist Sheyla Obregón, reports that Miguel has achieved about 70% of their primary therapy goal of independent movement to play and get to know his surroundings. “Now he walks, he eats and drinks by himself, brushes his teeth, and washes his hands,” said Rivero. “If Miguel did not have therapy, he would not have made these advances.”

Miguel’s mother, Ana Gertrudis Potoy, says that the family is very happy with his progress. “He has improved so much,” she said, “and he loves being here so much that he does not want to leave when therapy ends.”

Miguel has therapy sessions once a week at Casa Samaritano, and Obregón maintains an updated therapy plan for him with short-term and long-term therapy goals. The short-term goals include climbing and descending stairs with little assistance and improving his fine motor skills to participate in activities like painting. The long-term goals include improving Miguel’s posture, especially while walking, to prevent muscle spasms and for Miguel to respond to auditory stimuli. These stimuli include simple requests, such as bringing the therapist an object or putting away his toys.

To achieve these therapy goals, Obregón plans to give Miguel objectives and rewards such as climbing stairs to reach a cracker and descending to get a glass of water. He will also be given different colored beans or small objects to separate into different baskets, pick up toys from the floor to put on the table, and play with Playdough and crayons with help from his mother. These exercises will help improve Miguel’s balance, strength and flexibility in his legs, arms, hands and fingers.

Miguel and his therapists face additional challenges in his therapy progress because Miguel does not speak, has poor vision but unable to wear glasses, and is prone to stomach infections. His mother sees these as additional reasons to be grateful for the care Miguel receives at Casa Samaritano. Potoy says that she and Miguel feel welcomed and cared for by the Casa Samaritano staff, and they feel like a part of the NPH family.

*Name changed for privacy purposes.

Emily Doyle   
Communication Officer

You may be only one person in the world, but you may be all the world to one child.
—Fr. William Wasson




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