By Susie Trenkle
A benefit will be held on Aug. 27, at VFW Post 9592, to help raise money to send 6-year-old Kevin Healy Jr., who has cerebral palsy, to Poland for specialized therapy. Through an afternoon of entertainment, raffles, games, and food, those organizing the event are hoping to help Kevin's family raise enough money to get this treatment which may change his life.
Currently, Kevin can walk under close supervision, with the aid of a walker. He cannot walk on his own, but uses a commando crawl for locomotion. He is able to speak in 1-3 word sentences.
A full-time student at the Little Village School in Bellmore, Kevin receives physical therapy, occupational therapy and limited curriculum, which includes computers, primarily for recognition skills; group activities; and goal oriented activities. In addition Kevin receives physical therapy at home twice a week and equestrian therapy once a week.
It was at his equestrian therapy that the Healy family met Mary and her parents, who told them about this treatment in Poland, which oftentimes enables children like Kevin to walk. Mary, who recently returned from her third trip to the Euromed Center in Poland, went to the rehabilitation center not even able to sit up or crawl and returned this third time able to take some steps without any balance aids. According to Kevin Healy Sr., Mary walked off the plane with just the assistance of the type of crutches that wrap around the forearm. It is this story and others like it that gives Kevin Sr., his wife Pattie, and the rest of the Healy family so much hope about this treatment program.
The therapy at the Euromed Center for Rehabilitation consists of a 28-day program, with 4-6 hours of therapy six days a week. This program includes various extensive therapies including the use of a space-age suit called the Adeli Suit. This suit was designed by the Russians for the Cosmonauts to prevent muscular atrophy while in a weightless environment.
The Adeli suit consists of a system of elastic cords attached to a wide belt worn at the hip and joint area and connected with shoes and knee pads. The system of elastic connectors topographically mirrors the arrangement of flexor and extensor muscles, the body trunk rotators and lower limbs. A patient, while wearing the suit, goes through various exercises including "how to walk." The suit works as an elastic frame surrounding the body.
Scientific observation of the treatment has shown that in the middle to end of the first session new elements of stability and intended movement occur and the intensity of unintended movement and lack of coordination decreases, and there is a decrease of intensity of speech fluency disorder in later stages of the session. The blood circulation in the patient's central artery and other areas has been found to improve. Findings also show that the bio-electrical functions of muscles improves, there is an increase in the brain cortex activity which is followed by the rebuilding of bio-electrical functions on the cortex and sub-cortex levels, the low level of proprioceptive impulses from the feet of a person who does not walk increases after application of the suit, and laboratory tests show an increase in the calcification of bones and an improvement in their mechanical characteristics.
Research was done on 620 patients who went through the treatment and there was some improvement in 604 of those cases. Of those cases, 196 patients had a small improvement, 312 had intermediate improvement and 112 saw large improvements. A progress in speech fluency occurred in 64 percent of the patients.
This would not be the first treatment that 6-year-old Kevin has undergone. Kevin, one of two surviving triplets born 12 weeks prematurely, had PDA, Paraventricular Locomalasia, difficulty breathing and a large hemangioma on his neck at birth. After being hospitalized twice by the time he was a year and a half, it was determined that there was something wrong with Kevin's breathing and he needed an emergency tracheotomy and he spent three months in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit. During that time his thracheostomy tube got plugged, a lung collapsed and he required a chest tube to re-inflate the lung. He was decanulated in October 1995, at which time the hemangioma was removed. The muscles that connect to his eyes have been cut away and reattached, in order to correct his crossed eyes; he has had an operation on his spinal column in which about 70 percent of certain nerves were cut to reduce the spactisity in the lower extremities so he would have more control of his movements; has had other procedures to reduce spactisity; and has had tubes put in his ears three times.
"Up until now we've done everything that we can to try to enhance my son's life and most of that has been surgery so this non-surgical thing came to our attention and we decided to give it a shot," said Kevin Healy Sr.
In order to have the therapy, Kevin and one of his parents need to get over to Poland and they need to pay for the accommodations over there, which is why friends of the Healy family have joined together to host this benefit, which will take place on Aug. 27 at 2 p.m. at VFW Post 9592, 55 Hickory Lane, Levittown. Donations for Kevin's therapy can also be mailed to: SB's Tavern, c/o Kevin Healy Jr. Fund, 406 Jerusalem Ave., Hicksville, NY 11801.