Early in their daughter’s life, Chris and Katie Pelham noticed things were different. Hannah favored using her left hand and kept her right hand balled in a fist. She also was unable to straighten her right arm and never used it when learning to crawl. As time passed, she began to fall easily.
However, Hannah’s diagnosis of mild hemiplegia didn’t occur until she was 2. That is when Sergio Jacinco, M.D., a pediatric neurologist in Tampa, first saw her and was able to determine within minutes that Hannah had a type of cerebral palsy that, in her case, manifests itself as a weakness in the muscles on the right side of the body. The condition resulted from a stroke that occurred in infancy.
In search of expert pediatric orthopaedic specialty care, the Pelhams, who live in Seminole, Florida, came to Shriners Hospitals for Children — Tampa, which since its opening in 1985, has served nearly 60,000 children.
Alfred Hess, M.D., an orthopaedic surgeon who specializes in upper extremity disorders at the Tampa Shriners Hospital, implanted a pin to help Hannah improve her hand grip. Hannah, with her striking long auburn locks and endearing smile, has since become a familiar face at the hospital, visiting every week for physical and occupational therapy.
Reflecting on Hannah's care at Shriners Hospital, Katie Pelham stated, “They did anything they could to ease her anxiety, like letting her pick out the color of her cast and after the surgery they put her in a room that had a gift bag filled with all sorts of fun stuff.” "The entire staff is extremely sensitive to the needs of both patients and parents," she added.
“They have been just amazing, especially (occupational therapist) Lynn White who is overjoyed to see and work with Hannah,” Katie Pelham said. “She’s so knowledgeable, and does anything she can to make it a positive experience for Hannah.”
White is also a very special in Hannah’s eyes. “She’s really nice and she helps me a lot,” she said.
Hannah showed her appreciation to the hospital by setting up a lemonade stand. It raised $52.26. She proudly presented the check to "Miss Lynn."