Author: Jessica Cerretani

Enjoying life to her full potential with cerebral palsy

Stella is thriving with cerebral palsy

For a month, Nikki Puzzo walked around with a hockey puck strapped to her torso. But this mother of two wasn’t just being silly or exhibiting her love of sports. Instead, she was demonstrating solidarity with her younger daughter, Stella. The little girl, who has spastic diplegia cerebral palsy (CP), had a device called a baclofen pump implanted into her abdomen. “I wanted her to feel more comfortable and know that she wasn’t alone,” explains Nikki.

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The joy of cooking (and eating) after tracheomalacia

Charlotte was diagnosed with EA/TEF and tracheomalacia as a baby

For most little kids, a trip to the supermarket is an annoying chore, made tolerable only by the opportunity to request sugary snacks as a reward. But when Charlotte McQueen accompanies her mother, Erin, to the store, it’s a journey marked by imagination and delight. “Mom, can we get that?” she asks, pointing to a can of pureed pumpkin. “Oh, and we’ll need marshmallows and we can make chocolate frosting. It will be a great cake!”

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Helping kids get fit — one step at a time

Parents in the community learn how to cook healthy food for their families
Families participating in Fitness in the City (FIC), a partnership with Boston Children’s Hospital, get referrals to resources and educational offerings like this cooking class.

“How many tortillas do you eat at dinner?” Francisca Guevara asks the boy and his parents. “Okay,” she says when they tell her three. “Do you think you could eat two instead? Or even just one?” They nod in agreement: That seems possible.

As the associate director of community health and outreach for Charles River Community Health, Guevara recognizes the need to meet families where they are, tailoring her suggestions to fit their traditions. “We can’t tell people that they can no longer eat the foods that are important to their culture,” she explains. “That just puts families on the defensive. But we can explain why certain foods aren’t healthy and suggest that they eat smaller or less-frequent portions.”

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Striking a balance: Charlie’s recovery from neonatal stroke

Charlie is making progress recovering from a stroke.

“Hey, Charlie,” says Dr. Michael Rivkin as he gently dangles a small rubber ducky in front of the little boy. “Would you like this?” A wide smile breaks out across the toddler’s face. Why yes, he certainly would like that duck. He reaches and grasps at it, closing his tiny fingers around the toy.

For Charlie Strzempek, it’s nothing more than a playful act. But for his parents, Kathleen and Tom, it’s a major accomplishment. Dr. Rivkin isn’t simply offering his patient a toy. He’s testing his ability to grab and hold an object in his right hand — the side of his body affected by a neonatal stroke.

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