Stories about: Donna Nimec

Hunter’s story: Oh, the places he’ll go!

cerebral palsy_mobility dog_HunterHunter VanBrocklin is a kid on the go. The fearless fourth grader loves to hike on his family’s 20-acre property in Alfred, Maine, with his constant canine companion Wendy by his side. He trekked through national parks in the U.S. and Canada with his parents and sister in the summer of 2015. He’s even developed his own version of four-wheeling.

Hunter is exceedingly mobile for a child who shouldn’t be walking, according to the experts.

“When Hunter was a baby, he was slow to roll over and crawl and wasn’t walking,” recalls his mother Kelly VanBrocklin. His pediatrician referred Hunter to Dr. Gregory Melkonian, an orthopedist in the Boston Children’s Hospital Orthopedic Center and Cerebral Palsy Program, who diagnosed Hunter with cerebral palsy, just shy of his second birthday.

Melkonian performed botulinum toxin (Botox) injections and serial casting to reduce the spasticity in Hunter’s ankles and improve his walking and balance. Hunter also was fitted with lower leg braces.

As a toddler, Hunter started using a walker to get around. He jokes, “That walker didn’t stand a chance. Walkers are good for going at slow speeds, but they aren’t meant for kids on the go.” Hunter broke his second walker in less than a year.

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