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news News Thursday, April 30, 2020 Thursday, April 30, 2020 12:50 PM - Thursday, April 30, 2020 12:50 PM

Bentley’s big steps

Watch this Patient Ambassador walk after being told he never would

Bentley’s big steps

When you think of Shriners Healthcare for Children — Florida patient, Bentley, you immediately think of his smile. The 8-year-old easily melts hearts with his wide grin, bright brown eyes and gleeful personality; all of which complement his “can-do” attitude that has brought him to where he is today.

Bentley was born prematurely at 29 1/2 weeks with quadriplegia cerebral palsy, also known as spastic quadriplegia, a condition that affects the movement in all four limbs of the body. After two months in the NICU and being told Bentley was simply “behind but would catch up,” his parents, Linda and Andrew, demanded more answers. It was then that they received a bleak prediction from their then physicians on their son’s future.

“Our doctors at that time basically gave us no hope,” Linda said. “They thought Bentley would never be independent – he wouldn’t be able to talk ‘normally,’ walk or even feed himself.”

Feeling unsatisfied with those answers, Linda and Andrew began researching other health care options for their son, and Bentley became a patient at Shriners Healthcare in Florida in 2013.

Since then, Bentley’s medical journey has included one surgery to release his hamstrings and adductors in both legs, and recently, a second surgery to lengthen those hamstrings in order to help the seating department and Pediatric Orthotic and Prosthetic Services – Southeast, LLC. These departments provide Bentley’s family with the equipment he needs to stay on the move: a manual and powered wheelchair, as well as a pair of ankle-foot orthotics each year to help support him while he grows.

Bentley uses his newest device, hip-knee-ankle-foot orthotics (HKAFOs), to help stabilize his legs during physical therapy as he learns to walk; something he and his parents were told he would never be able to do. Along with a walker for assistance, Bentley continues to focus on this goal with his therapists during his weekly visits to our rehabilitation department. (Pictured on the right, Bentley is participating in a photo shoot using his HKAFO device and walker.)

Bentley took big steps – his first outside his physical therapy appointments – at the University of South Florida’s Dance Marathon event earlier this year. After participating in the event the year before from his wheelchair in two full leg casts, Bentley told his family he was determined to walk across the stage at USF’s 2020 event. With a packed ballroom of nearly 1,000 people, Bentley did just that. Onlookers cheered, wept and shouted for him as he took the stage alongside his mom, Linda, for this monumental moment.

It’s clear that Bentley’s spirit cannot be broken. One of Bentley’s favorite phrases to shout about those early naysayers is “Prove them wrong!” It’s easy to see that with the support of our medical staff, Bentley will continue to do just that.

 “I can’t even begin to say how much Shriners has impacted all of our lives,” Linda said. “Not only have they given Bentley a chance and hope, but they have given our entire family hope. We are forever grateful.”

Video of Bentley walking at USF's Dance Marathon: