“I think it’s easy to underestimate our kids, but when you give them an opportunity, even to do something hard, you know, it may be difficult, it may be challenging, but it doesn’t mean it’s beyond them.”
Imagine your morning routine. You wake up, eyes blinking slowly, still battling sleep. You roll over, get out of bed, and stretch in the morning’s rays. Then you proceed to conquer whatever the day has in store for you.
This simple but familiar act is a touchstone – the signal beckoning another brand-new day.
Morning routines are second nature for most of us. But for Susie, accomplishing this process on her own was years in the making.
Susie’s a regular, happy-go-lucky kid. She loves to play with her siblings and enjoys spending time in the great outdoors. But Susie also happens to have Spina Bifida, a condition typically apparent from birth that affects the spine.
Paralyzed from the waist down, Susie’s leg bones are brittle, largely due to the lack of walking that comes from her diagnosis. She’s had multiple surgeries for broken bones throughout her life and battles osteomyelitis, swelling in the bones, which is common in individuals with Spina Bifida.
“She had real trouble transferring or being independent because of her inability to get around, to walk around, even inability to crawl […] she was pretty much totally dependent on others before she was able to be fitted for braces,” says Susie’s dad.
Getting out of bed on her own hasn’t always been an option readily available to Susie.
Nevertheless, the journey to outfitting her for leg braces was a step in that direction – a step towards independence.
“I think that’s one of the great things about braces […] people naturally relate better to people who are standing than people who are sitting in a wheelchair. And, you know, that’s unfortunate to a degree, but it’s also a reality. So, I think it gives Susie a better opportunity to be received by others.”
Moving to Arkansas in 2011, Susie’s family was on the hunt for the right orthotics provider in Arkansas when one of their friends mentioned Snell.
“And so, we ended up in Fayetteville and met Randy, who is just incredible,” says Susie’s dad. Randy Ludolph and Greg Johnson both work extensively with Susie, outfitting her braces and ensuring she has everything she needs to take those first of many steps forward. Susie and her family have been impressed with the quality of service and the interaction the Snell staff has with them.
Transitioning from a wheelchair to braces has allowed Susie to get off the beaten path and has given her even more independence, allowing her to search for bugs with her siblings. Susie has flourished and continues to do so since braces became a part of her life. The first time she was able to get out of bed on her own in the morning was huge, says Susie’s dad.
“I think she was surprised that she could actually do it,” he says. “And that’s why I think it was such a confidence builder. Now that she just does it routinely, it’s like, it’s opened up a whole new window in her life. She’s not waiting around for somebody to come to get her ready and get her into a wheelchair. She is just up and at ‘em.”
Susie greets each new day with her braces and crutches alongside her bed, ready to conquer each challenge as it comes her way. Her newfound independence continues to help her grow and exhibit confidence.
Susie’s dad says the transformation is both rewarding and evident from a parental point of view.
Susie has not let her journey with Spina Bifida keep her from being a kid. She loves the color purple, math, using her imagination, and putting smiles on others’ faces.
“I think it’s easy to underestimate our kids,” he says. “When you give them an opportunity, even to do something hard, you know, it may be difficult, it may be challenging, but it doesn’t mean it’s beyond them.”
Susie is on a path to a more independent life, and the entire family is excited to witness her growth with Snell at every step of the way.