Harper Gallagher hadn’t been feeling well. When her mom, Stephanie, asked the 2-year-old what was wrong, Harper touched the top of her head. The toddler wasn’t sleeping and was experiencing severe headaches. After several trips to her pediatrician’s office and medical tests, doctors discovered Harper had Juvenile Pilocytic Astrocytoma, a rare brain tumor.
“It was a shock,” Stephanie said of learning her child’s diagnosis. “Knowing that she has this cancer inside of her, which is a parent’s biggest fear, but there was also some relief to know that I wasn’t losing my mind because that’s what my suspicion was.”
Harper had surgery at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital in November to remove the tumor then came to Mary Free Bed, where she spent about two weeks in the inpatient Pediatric Rehabilitation Program. The family’s care manager suggested Harper would benefit from continued therapy offered by the hospital’s Pediatric Day Rehab Program. The program provides intensive, multidisciplinary rehabilitation for several hours, several days a week with the same team of therapists.
Each child’s individualized plan of care is based on an assessment of strengths, abilities and areas for improvement and may include physical, occupational, speech-language and recreational therapy.
“Harper benefited from our day rehab program because of that consistency,” said occupational therapist Jennifer Mazurkiewicz. “We were able to really get to know her, and we saw a lot of progression once she was comfortable with us.”
Harper participated in the program from December to March, starting with three hours, three days a week. She progressed to three hours just one day a week until her therapy goals were met and she was cleared for graduation.
“They really care about your child and your family,” Stephanie said. “I felt like they really invested in wanting to get to know Harper and what I wanted out of her time here with them, so that meant the world to me.”
Learn more about Harper’s story and the Pediatric Day Rehab program in this video: