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“We Found Something That Changed Our Daughter’s Life,” Says Mom of Child With Cerebral Palsy

Julie McBride was only 25 weeks pregnant when a driver fell asleep at the wheel and hit her and her husband head-on. Due to injuries sustained in the crash, doctors had to deliver her baby, Juliana, within 12 hours. During the delivery, Juliana suffered from a brain bleed resulting in cerebral palsy. Her movement is limited by spasticity and hypertonia, but her mother, Julie, tells us through tears that, “Otteroo is amazing.”

When we put her in the Otteroo, I was stunned that our daughter could swim. It was beautiful. We could tell she felt free, realizing she could use her body in a way that she previously couldn’t for the first time.

When did you first try Otteroo?

The first time we used it was last summer…we tried the floaties where she just would sit in them. She’d had the canopy, but we knew we needed something more for her. She would just chill, she wasn’t really moving in the water. I saw Otteroo on Instagram, and my first thought was, “We need it for Juliana.” All the videos showed kids having so much fun. We bought it immediately.

How did she react?

We bought it, and the first time that we took her to use it in the pool, she was kicking her legs, and I’d never seen her do that before. Once we got her in the Otteroo, it was beautiful. I was just like, “Oh my god, my daughter can.” You could tell that she felt free. She was realizing that she could use her body in a way that she couldn’t for the first time ever.

She didn’t need myself or my husband to help her. She could do it. She was like free like, “Oh, this is my first step of independence.”

How did that make you feel?

It made me feel this immense happiness for Juliana that I can’t explain. Juliana’s type of cerebral palsy makes it hard for her to have physical movement. Seeing her swim, I thought; finally, she’s able to move. It was a developmental milestone she had yet to meet. We couldn’t stop smiling as we watched her looking around the pool with her sunglasses on while kicking and spinning. Our daughter was swimming on her own. She didn’t need help from my husband or myself. We could tell she felt a sense of independence.

She first used it last summer, how is she responding this summer?

Oh my goodness, this summer was very different compared to last. Last summer, she was very cautious and testing the waters. This summer was kicking, and even started to splash and get a little wild. She loves the motion of rocking back and forth, and I felt happy as I watched her.

Have you noticed any changes in her development?

Her teachers let me know that she can move her legs more at school and notice less spasticity. As parents, we know her tone is better from exercising in the pool. We can see a huge difference in her muscle tone. Her legs aren’t as tight. We feel hopeful that her muscles and strength will improve vastly using the otteroo.

I think the important thing is we’ve found something that’s changed our daughter’s life. It’s made her build confidence in other areas of her life outside the pool.

Is there anything else you want to add?

I think the important thing is we’ve found something that’s changed our daughter’s life. It’s made her build confidence in other areas of her life outside the pool. Outside of the pool she wants to kick more, see what her limits are and what she’s capable of. I also think it prepared her for getting in her walker for the first time a few weeks ago. Her second time in the walker the therapist never had to stimulate her muscles. Juliana was able to pick her feet up on her own and take steps. As parents we feel the Otteroo has been life-changing for her.

Julie Forbes