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Little Gemma finds strength to battle hypotonia, ‘courage’ to try new things

Gemma was 1 year old when she started outpatient therapy at Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital for hypotonia, a condition that weakens the muscles, making it difficult to sit, stand or walk. As part of her therapy, pediatric physical therapist Kate Rustem has used Kinesio Taping to facilitate core muscle stability. “We use it to…
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Hetler family has ‘only positive expectations’ for daughter born with limb differences

Guest blog: Kellie Hetler is a photographer from Grand Rapids whose daughter, Gabriella, was born with congenital skeletal dysplasia, an upper extremity limb difference. Kellie chronicles Gabby’s story on a website called “Gabriella’s Hope.” Kellie also has organized a fundraiser for Mary Free Bed’s Center for Limb Differences. A special screening of Disney Pixar’s “Finding…
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Abigail Kopf’s recovery: ‘To see where she is today is amazing’

Abigail Kopf, the Battle Creek teen critically injured in the Feb. 20 mass shootings in Kalamazoo, graduated April 20 from Mary Free Bed after 6 weeks of intensive inpatient treatment. Since her admission to Mary Free Bed on March 8, Abigail has made significant strides in her recovery from a gunshot wound to the head….
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3-year-old gaining strength, skills through ‘play’

Guest blog by Sharon Weber Elena is 3 years old. She was born in China and came home to our family when she was 15 months old. She is a funny kid who likes to tell jokes. She is a girlie girl who particularly enjoys shopping and trying on shoes. Elena is active and likes to…
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Certified Child Life Specialist joins Pediatric team at Mary Free Bed

Grand Rapids, Mich. — Certified Child Life Specialist Kelsey Combs has joined Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital to help its youngest patients cope with their illness and hospitalization. Combs, who comes to Mary Free Bed from Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital, will provide services that educate, support and prepare young children and teenagers.  She will collaborate…
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Silas helps inspire ‘SO Awesome’ gift

UPDATED January 19, 2016: Silas Camp, a former patient treated about 4 years ago for plagiocephaly and torticollis, visited Mary Free Bed’s Outpatient Pediatric Therapy team with a special gift for other young patients. During the holiday season, his family’s business, SO Awesome, gives back to the West Michigan community through its “One for One”…
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Bissell’s Howl-O-Ween boosts pediatric & pet therapy programs

Sometimes, a wagging tail is just the motivation a patient needs to push through an intensive therapy session. That’s where “pet recreation professionals” like Walter and Charlie come into play. The two friendly (and hard-working) dogs are part of the animal-assisted therapy program at Mary Free Bed. Penny Richards, an occupational therapist at Mary Free…
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‘They believe in Anna, so Anna believes in herself’

Guest blog by Juliana Morano, mother to pediatric patient Anna Morano Anna was born with a bilateral cleft lip and palate. She is being treated by Dr. Mann, which is where she first met her speech therapist, Jenn Bobb. Due to her cleft, Anna was having a very difficult time making sounds and forming words…
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Teens raise money for limb difference program

Recent Hudsonville High School graduate Bailey Gulch was all smiles when she handed a white envelope to Mary Free Bed Annual Fund Director Jocelyn Dettloff. It contained checks totaling $1,000, all made payable to Mary Free Bed. During her last semester of high school, 17-year-old Bailey spearheaded a fundraiser to help with the cost of…
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New pink helmet elicits lots of smiles [Photo Gallery]

Violet Pratt is a spunky 4-year-old. With big brown eyes and a wide smile, she twirls and laughs as she waits with her family in an Orthotics & Prosthetics examination room at Mary Free Bed. On this May afternoon, Violet is here to receive a helmet – “a pink one,” she tells Kim Nequist, the…
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