The parents of 5-year-old Hailey Lopez probably never guessed that they would one day nickname their daughter, “the dolphin.” Hailey was born at 26 weeks and 2 days, and subsequently developed cerebral palsy from that premature birth.
She has spent years in physical, speech and occupational therapy, but it’s Otteroo that Hailey’s parents call the “game-changer” in her life. Nestor Lopez, Hailey’s dad, tells us what he means by that.
How was Hailey’s first experience in the Otteroo?
We put her in for the first time, and she was out swimming! She felt like she gained her freedom, right then and there. There was no better feeling to actually see her being able to be mobile. Yeah, it was a great turnout from that day. That’s what she’s now using for her occupational therapy, because she does therapy in the water. They use Otteroo for that.
Once you put the Otteroo on, and you go around in the pool, she’s free. She’s mobile. She feels like she has control.
How does she respond to having that mobility?
It’s one of those things, when you have a child with cerebral palsy. It’s the amount of movement that she has throughout the day – it’s very, very minimal. She spends a lot of time in her stroller, which is a pediatric stroller. She spends a lot of time sitting down. She spends a lot of time on the floor, crawling, if you can call it, because she doesn’t do very much of it.
Once you put the Otteroo on, and you go around in the pool, she’s free. She’s mobile. She feels like she has control. Those are the things that you and I would take for granted, how free we are. We just go on a day-to-day basis, and we’re free.
How has Otteroo changed her life?
Now, I’m noticing what she can do, and she can feel like … I call her a little dolphin. I posted our video where she’s just so happy. Like, “Look, look, Dad. Look what I can do!” You know? Things like that, that she normally doesn’t do at home or with her stroller. Otteroo has given her that freedom for her to be able to do that stuff. That quote, “It’s a game-changer,” that’s where it came from. It’s the freedom that she’s able to feel when she’s in the water.
How does Hailey react when she knows she’s getting into an Otteroo?
She knows. She knows that we’re gonna go to the pool. It’s one of those things, that she doesn’t want to get out of the pool. She knows that that’s her device. This is her new normal. It’s the way that she feels free to be able to do that. She gets excited. Her favorite thing to do is swimming. It’s her favorite thing for obvious reasons, and she feels free. She knows when we’re inflating it, it’s because we’re headed to the pool.
You mentioned the therapists now use an Otteroo in the pool with Hailey. How?
Before Otteroo, the therapist had to hold her. She had to be holding her in the water, or they would go by the side of the pool, where she would just get her feet wet.
That would tear into the time because the therapist would spend most of the time trying to adjust Hailey, trying to make sure that she wasn’t going to drown. A lot of it was hard work for the therapist.
They’ve been really pleased and happy about this device that’s helped the therapists be able to give Hailey a lot more mobility.
Now, they’re able to focus on a lot more things with occupational therapy. Occupational therapy, a lot has to do with her hands. A lot has to do with her holding stuff, with her treading water, with her throwing stuff. Before the Otteroo she wasn’t really able to do that, because she was being held, and being constricted from that movement.
Now, having that available, she’s using both hands. She has a really hard time with her left hand. So, ever since we started using it, we’ve seen an improvement in her left hand, especially. Because she’s able to use both, and they’re able to do a lot with it. They’ve been really pleased and happy about this device that’s helped the therapists be able to give Hailey a lot more mobility.
It makes their job easier.
Initially, you almost blew off Otteroo?
At first, when we first saw it, we saw it was geared to babies. I think that’s why we didn’t give it a second thought. Then, once you see that you can actually use it, not just on babies, but on disabled children. The market does not gear towards disabled children. It’s hard to find something like that. It’s a huge help for parents like us; that gives us more tools.
You feel pleased, and you feel thankful for a company that’s taking the time, and taking resources, to help kids with disabilities. We feel thankful to you guys for having a device that’s such help for our daughter. That has made a game-changer for her.