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Stories That Move You.
Mary working at computer with her mother

Mary working at a computer with her mother.

Born with cerebral palsy, 12-year-old Mary McDonough was suffering from a problem with her legs. Her hamstrings were pulling so tight that she was losing the ability to walk, even with crutches.

In December 2008, Mary underwent major surgery at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital. During the eight-and-a-half hour operation, six of the bones in Mary’s legs were broken so that they could be repositioned using steel plates, releasing muscles and tendons.

After spending four days in the hospital, Mary was sent home with her legs in casts. Shortly after getting the casts off in February 2009, Mary was taken to Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital in Grand Rapids, where she was an inpatient for about six weeks.

Since she was very weak, her therapists began working on simple things like teaching Mary how to transfer herself from her wheelchair to the bed and exercise table. Working with physical, occupational, and recreational therapists, Mary had a minimum of three hours of therapy a day.

“Mary was a trooper. After her therapy, she still had all her school homework to do. The staff was so supportive, even helping her on occasion,” says Mary’s father, Martin.

“We’re also proud of our 17-year-old son, Ian, who had to be very self-sufficient during the time [Mom] Katy and I spent in the hospital with Mary.”

It was not all work for Mary. The recreation room was across the hall, and she found fun things to do there including air hockey and arts and crafts. The recreational therapist took the patients on field trips, and pet therapy was offered once every two weeks.

“I really enjoyed interacting with the dogs because it took my mind off all the other therapy I was having,” Mary says.

Mary now visits an outpatient facility closer to her home in Greenville three times a week and checks in with Mary Free Bed quarterly. She practices walking with a walker and braces on her legs. Meanwhile, she’s back in school and enjoys being out and about with her family in Greenville.

“We’re so grateful we could take advantage of Mary Free Bed’s services,” says her mother. “They are the best of the best.”

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One Response to “Cerebral palsy patient shares MFB experience”

  1. Kate Snider says:

    Good story and good writing!

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