“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.”

Once we got her in the Otteroo, it was beautiful. I was just like, “Oh my god, my daughter can.” It was just like, you could tell that she felt free. She was realizing that she probably could use her body in a way that she couldn’t for the first time ever.

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. And so I saw you guys on Instagram, and I’m like, “Oh, I need to get this thing. I need to try it for her, all these kids look like they’re having so much fun.” And that’s exactly what we did.

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, just this happiness for her, that I can’t explain. I just felt so happy for her, and then as a mom to know, “Okay, my child is behind when it comes to large motor movements. Finally, she is able to do something that she should already be doing at her age.” But to see her just look around in the pool, and have her sunglasses on, and she was kicking and spinning, and that she could move on her own. 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.”

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

Oh my god, this summer was so different from last. Last summer you could see her testing the waters, but she was still cautious and looking around, and this summer she was just kicking, she started to get a little bit wild with the kicking, and the motion of rocking back and forth, and I just felt so happy for her.

Have you noticed any changes in her development?

Her teachers tell me she was able to move her legs a little bit better. There wasn’t that much spasticity to them, like they were bendable, and we do know for sure that that was from her being in the pool, and using those muscles, but just to know that she can use something, and if we have her in the pool, and she’s using this, her muscles can get a lot better.

I think the most important thing is just… that we found something that changed our daughter’s life.  It’s made her build this confidence into, “Oh, I can do this.”

Is there anything else you want to add?

I think the most important thing is just… that we found something that changed our daughter’s life.  It’s made her build this confidence into, “Oh, I can do this.” So, even outside of the pool she wants to kick more, she wants to see what her limits are, or what she is capable of doing. In combination, I think that it has also helped her be able to [get] into the walker for the first time a few weeks ago…on her second time into the walker, they never had to stimulate her muscle. She picked her feet up all on her own to take those steps. So, I would say for us as parents, the Otteroo has been life-changing for her.

Julie Forbes

Julie Kroenig Forbes graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of Missouri School of Journalism. She spent the next 10 years working as a news anchor and reporter in various cities, most recently in Nashville, Tennessee. After a few years in Northern California and New York, she now lives in Ohio with her husband and four kids.
Julie Forbes

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