In 2015, 2-year-old Dilon had a spinal cord stroke due to complications from surgery, causing paralysis from the waist down. “Life completed turned upside down,” said Valarie, Dilon’s mother.
Hospitals in Dilon’s native New Mexico had no experience with pediatric spinal cord injuries, according to his mother, who even searched for resources in Colorado and all over the U.S. “They just told me ‘this is your new life, get used to it.’ I would ask questions and all they could say was ‘we don’t know.’ I had lost all hope until I saw a commercial for Shriners Hospitals for Children on television.”
Valarie called the number she saw in the advertisement on television which was a donation hotline. The operator was able to redirect her to a patient services line and they connected her to our Philadelphia Shriners Hospital. Since Dilon’s first visit with us in May 2016, his appointments include bouts of therapy that feature our TheraStride, a body-weight support treadmill system that helps the nervous system to recover its motor learning ability.
“The improvements we’ve seen have been wonderful,” said Valarie. Before coming to the Philadelphia Shriners Hospital, Dilon was unable to hold himself up. Now 4 years old, he is able to crawl on his knees and balance to sit on his PlasmaCar, a ride-on toy that uses Dilon’s own weight to push him along. “My goal for Dilon is for him to be as independent as he possibly can be, and Shriners [Hospital] is going to play a huge part in that,” said Valarie.
But Dilon’s trips to Shriners Hospitals for Children — Philadelphia don’t just improve his physical state. “His emotional state has drastically improved,” said Valarie. “He doesn’t feel so alone. Until we came here, he never saw another child in a wheelchair. He feels like he fits in.”
Back at home, Dilon is able to connect with his friends by riding his tricycle. After outgrowing his old bike, Dilon was in need of a new tricycle. During one of his most recent physical therapy sessions, Dilon’s physical therapist, Ali, delivered some exciting news. Someone had just dropped off a donation that included the very type of bike that Dilon needed.
With the help of Rob, our seating technician, Dilon was fitted to his bike and immediately sped down the rehabilitation department hallways. Dilon said he calls Rob “Robin” because “he’s a superhero that fixes everything!”
While Valarie and Dilon headed back home to New Mexico, their support system at the Philadelphia Shriners Hospital was with them. “We have the support of such knowledgeable personnel. They give us therapy plans to do at home and I know I can call if I have questions,” said Valarie. “If you’re looking for hope, Shriners [Hospital] is the place to go,” said Valarie. “You’re not just a patient ID here. It’s not just a hospital – you’re a part of the Shriners family.”