Tod­dler takes on unique re­hab

City girl be­came fa­mous two years ago for her home­made Bumbo wheel­chair

Edmonton Journal - - CITY -

Eve­lyn Moore sings the al­pha­bet song as her tiny run­ning shoes plunk down on the tread­mill.

The par­a­lyzed 21/2-year old is strapped to the ma­chine with a spe­cial har­ness, as two health work­ers lift her legs up and down to com­plete each step.

“All done,” the smil­ing tod­dler chirps as she’s un­buck­led and car­ried off to con­tinue her ex­er­cise rou­tine.

The Ed­mon­ton girl made head­lines and melted hearts in 2016 with im­ages of her ex­pertly rolling along in a home­made wheel­chair her fa­ther fash­ioned from a foam baby Bumbo seat, a cut­ting board and bike wheels.

At four-months-old, Eve­lyn was di­ag­nosed with can­cer and a tu­mour on her spine left her par­a­lyzed below her arms. Af­ter sev­eral rounds of chemo­ther­apy, doc­tors an­nounced she was in re­mis­sion, but the paral­y­sis was per­ma­nent.

Now Eve­lyn is hit­ting the gym and walk­ing — with the help of ma­chines.

Her mother, Kim Moore, says Al­berta funds monthly home vis­its by oc­cu­pa­tional and phys­i­cal ther­a­pists, but she wanted more ther­apy for her daugh­ter.

“I’ve been told many times that my daugh­ter is par­a­lyzed, which I un­der­stand,” Moore says. “But that doesn’t mean she can’t walk. That doesn’t mean she can’t live a life that has qual­ity to it. “Re­ally, it’s lim­it­less.”

Last July, Eve­lyn be­came the youngest client at Ed­mon­ton’s non-profit ReYu Paral­y­sis Re­cov­ery Cen­tre.

Co-founder Bean Gill says the cen­tre uses ac­tiv­ity-based train­ing to help peo­ple with spinal cord in­juries, spina bi­fida, stroke, cere­bral palsy, brain in­juries and neu­ro­log­i­cal con­di­tions.

The repet­i­tive form of re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion has helped clients reach such mile­stones as learn­ing to speak, sign­ing their names and brush­ing their hair, she says.

By get­ting Eve­lyn on a tread­mill for nearly an hour three to five times a week, even though she can’t walk on her own, she has gained blad­der con­trol, strength­ened her im­mune sys­tem and de­vel­oped mus­cles, says Gill. Eve­lyn can slightly kick her legs. And she can sit up with­out us­ing her hands.

“The best part is she doesn’t know it’s work­ing out,” Gill says. “To her, it’s fun. She’s play­ing with a pur­pose.”

Nancy Mor­row, a neuro ex­er­cise spe­cial­ist who teamed up with Gill to open the cen­tre, says ex­er­cise rep­e­ti­tion en­cour­ages the spinal cord and its pat­terns to ef­fec­tively “wake up.”

Mor­row says Eve­lyn also plays around on the floor with toys, takes juice breaks and some­times she gets strapped into a spe­cial mo­bil­ity har­ness called an Upsee.

Eve­lyn gets strapped to the front of her fa­ther’s long legs, their four feet tied into the same shoe plat­form. Brad Moore walks stiffly around the ReYu ex­er­cise room as Eve­lyn plods along, point­ing in the di­rec­tion she wants him to take her.

Brad Moore says it’s amaz­ing to see his daugh­ter’s progress. And even though she now has a real wheel­chair, he’s hold­ing onto her Bumbo one as a keep­sake.

“One day when she has a bet­ter un­der­stand­ing of things, we’ll say, ‘This is where it started.’”

JA­SON FRANSON/THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

Eve­lyn Moore and dad Brad Moore at the ReYu Paral­y­sis Re­cov­ery Cen­tre.

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