When Taylor, a pediatric speech therapist, wrote to us saying that she uses Otteroo to support her daughter’s therapy and that “Otteroo has made an amazing difference for Ava within her developmental milestones,” we were curious to learn more in hopes of sharing her experience with others who might find it helpful.
Ava, now 15 months, was recently diagnosed with cerebral palsy (CP) but has always had mixed muscle tone, which means she has high muscle tone farther away from her torso and lower muscle tone closer to her body. This keeps her from opening up her body and extending out – her elbows were tight and her arms would stay closer to it, her fingers were in a constant tight fist, and her ankles turn inward and wouldn’t rotate easily. Her first bath with Otteroo was the first time that she naturally extended her arms out and opened her hands on her own.
It’s the best purchase that I have ever made for her within therapy.
How did you encounter Otteroo?
I knew about Otteroo before I had Ava just through therapists. I'm a pediatric speech therapist myself so I work with a lot of NICU babies once they’re discharged for feeding and swallowing. I work closely with other physical therapists and occupational therapists, so I knew about Otteroo and had seen other babies with it, but I had never used it personally until I had Ava.
When did you learn about Ava’s condition?
She was diagnosed with cerebral palsy about a month ago, but it all kind of came from when she was diagnosed with cytomegalovirus (CMV) at about a week old. CMV is a virus that unfortunately, I had caught when she was in utero and I didn't know. I had a very normal pregnancy but she was born early and went to the NICU where they ended up diagnosing her with that. And then, everything that has come since is from the CMV.
How does being in the water with Otteroo help with her higher muscle tone?
The amazing part with the Otteroo is it allows her to get full usage of her body from the buoyancy of the water. When she is in the water with the Otteroo on, she will actually extend her hands out. She will open her fingers. The first time I put her in Otteroo was the first time I saw her body, on her own, go from here [close to her body] to like, relaxed in the tub. It was really cool to see.
It kind of gives her a whole different plane to work on because of the buoyancy; the water does a lot of the work. On land, the gravity is working against her but in the water, she’s allowed to move her body in a way that she wants to.
Just by using the Otteroo every day for about 30 minutes, it allowed her to start rolling at… I think she was nine months.
Wow, what can she do in the water that she has a hard time doing on land?
She can kick her feet in the water and she will move them up and down. She will kind of move her arms outwards, like she's trying to swim. And then, she just recently started rotating her body. Now with the Otteroo, she can go from being on her stomach and she can rotate her hips to where she's a little bit on her back.
The cool thing about the bathtub is I fill it up halfway and she uses it now to be on quadruped so she uses it to be on her hands and knees. She's working on crawling. The Otteroo keeps her up so she can still get some of that buoyancy to crawl in the water.
Has she ever used Otteroo in the pool?
We went to Florida last year and we brought the Otteroo and in the pool, she swam nonstop with that Otteroo on. That was also the first time she started to roll over on land because getting the strengthening and the ability to move in water translated for her. And that, wow, was cool to see. Just by using the Otteroo every day for about 30 minutes, it allowed her to start rolling at… I think she was nine months.
Why did you choose Otteroo for Ava?
I knew I’ve always wanted Otteroo but there are some things that I love about it now. The chin rest is great. Ava was diagnosed to have a shorter neck and smaller head from the CMV. But even with that, the Otteroo still fits her. My fear with her having the smaller head was that she would fall right through the Otteroo but that's never been the case. It's always rested perfectly on her chin.
Also, with the transparency, it didn’t seem to matter at first but she was recently diagnosed as being farsighted, so she has a hard time seeing up close. She’s gone in the Otteroo a few times now with her glasses and I feel like she’s now looking at the colorful sleeves on her swimsuit or she's looking below and her hands will cup the Otteroo, like she'll hold onto it. And she's looking at it like, "Is that my hand?"
Any last thoughts you want to share?
It’s the best purchase that I have ever made for her within therapy. Ever since we got it and started using it, and now just looking at it, she smiles, like she knows what’s coming and she knows she's going into the water. So yeah, I almost get chills and teary eyed because it's just so cool what it has done for her. And I would just really urge parents just to buy it. Just buy it and try it and you're not going to regret it whatsoever.