As you walk down the halls of The Children's Center, you might want to keep an eye out for one-year-old Heston Bock.
"Turn this way Heston," calls his physical therapist as the blonde-haired boy practices driving a power chair. It's just one of the many ways Heston has become more independent at The Children's Center.
"I mean just this morning he brushed his own teeth and hair! I would call that independence," says Heston's mother, Julie Bock.
He's come a long way in just six weeks. A journey that Julie that will never forget.
"Heston was perfectly healthy until he was five months old," Julie recalled. "One day I laid him down for tummy time; he was playing with his toys and started whimpering. I walked in the room and picked him up and he was totally limp."
Not knowing what happened, Julie rushed her son to the emergency room. "We spent the next month in the ICU (Intensive Care Unit) with the doctors trying to make a diagnosis because they weren't sure what was going on."
Heston was partially paralyzed and Julie received a grim prognosis. "A virus had attacked Heston's spine causing Transverse Mellitus," says Julie.
The inflammation caused damage to his spinal cord, and Julie left the ICU with little hope. "All of a sudden I walked out the door with a broken baby, with no direction to go or anyone guiding us."
Heston returned home with little hope for improvement. Julie became more than a mother for the next eight months; she took on the role of physical therapist, nurse and nutritionist all from her home.
"Just knowing my baby's life was completely changed, you have to go through a grieving process of losing your healthy baby."
Julie refused to give up on Heston's future even though he was labeled a "quadriplegic." She searched throughout the country looking for rehabilitative care for her son.
"I was willing to go anywhere. My husband, family and I decided we would move across the country if we needed to. We originally started looking in Maryland," Julie explains.
She didn't need to search far because the care Heston needed was right here in Oklahoma.
Heston was admitted to The Children's Center for rehabilitative care. Julie had done her homework, and knew her son needed the best care possible.
"Let's put it this way, as a parent I had very high expectations. I had done a lot of research. I knew what I was looking for."
Heston saw immediate results using switch-adapted toys and specialized bottles for nutrition. Before coming to The Children's Center, Julie struggled to keep Heston's weight up and even had a hard time getting Heston to eat from a spoon. The speech therapist at The Children's Center worked with Heston for weeks and soon Heston gained two pounds.
"It's enormous because Heston was not able to suck from a normal bottle, so I spent months with a child that weighed less than when he was five months old. And, I hadn't been able to get him to eat anything," says Julie.
Heston's warm smile and cheerful personality stole the hearts of his nurses and therapists at The Children's Center, including the heart of Rachel Griffith, Heston's speech-language pathologist.
"It's refreshing to work with a little kid that just doesn't have a care in the world," says Rachel. "At The Children's Center, we believe that kids can reach their maximum potential, and that every life is valuable and important. For Heston, even though he was doing okay at home he wasn't at the level that he could be functionally," Griffith says.
Julie noticed the immediate improvement, and Rachel helped Heston do everyday tasks with the simple push of a switch.
"Rachel has worked a lot with Heston. She has done a lot of work with switches with adaptive equipment in order for him to play with toys and communication devices," says Julie. Soon enough, Heston opened up physically and mentally.
"Before we came to The Children's Center, he had little movement in his arms. Now since we've been here, he is able to extend his arms, he reaches out to touch people, he waves. All of those things are new developments."
Heston is back home with his family in Tulsa, Oklahoma. "I'm very happy to say that I feel like my expectations have been met. I've not been disappointed. I think that says a lot about The Children's Center because I walked in here with very high expectations," says Julie.
"I've met so many wonderful people here. For the first time since this has occurred to Heston, it is as if I've seen him come to life. We have definitely come to just really love the staff here."
"I think his possibilities are limitless. I have spoken with doctors who didn't think he would do what he is doing right now. Ten years from now, as far as I'm concerned, he will be on the baseball field running around the bases making a home run."
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