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Allie's Physical Therapy Story

"Thanks to Ryan I was ready to take on college."

"I've had therapy with Ryan for seven years."

It has been seven years since Allie came through the doors of ACMC physical therapy for the first time. At just eleven years old, Allie began working with physical therapist, Ryan Hebrink, for symptoms related to her cerebral palsy, a neurological disorder which affects the body's movement and muscle coordination.

Since the age of five, Allie has undergone several surgeries related to her diagnosis including a rhizotomy to cut the nerves in her back, tibia and fibula de-rotations, placement of her hips back into the sockets, muscle lengthening and numerous Botox injections.

"My first goal was to stand on my own."

"I remember the first day she came in," Ryan reflected. "Her dad lifted her onto the exam table and we discussed the milestones we wanted to reach." With flexibility limitations and battling tightness in her muscles, Allie's first focus was to learn how to go from the floor to standing, completely on her own."

As she began to master each skill, Ryan continued to challenge Allie by timing her as she became more confident. "Now I can get off the floor in no time," Allie said. "I don't even have to think about it anymore."

"Ryan has made such a difference in my life."

As Allie grew, Ryan recognized how important it would be for her to continue developing important physical abilities. This motivated him to provide Allie with the tools she would need to become independent later in life. "I really needed to take a look at the bigger picture for her," Ryan explained. "So we started to add in elements of balance, strength, coordination and posture."

The pair worked through stretches, exercises, and games weekly to improve each area of Allie's needs. With a focus on growth, the activities gradually increased in difficulty as Allie became stronger. "It's never just been about correcting one thing," Allie said. "Everything we have done together has made a difference in my life."

"I've never let my disease stop me from doing what I love."

Despite her condition, Allie never lets anything hold her back from participating in the activities she loves. "I don't stop when something is difficult," Allie stated. "I know I have to finish no matter how much I may struggle."

In high school, Allie was active in dance, choir, managing varsity softball and basketball, Business Professionals of America and the National Honor Society. She also enjoys water and snow skiing as well as showing her family's five miniature horses. Allie has even visited the National Sports Center for the Disabled in Colorado to learn from experienced instructors and receive adaptive gear needed to downhill ski.

"I like the idea of her taking on different challenges," Ryan said. "Her parents have provided her with so many wonderful opportunities and you can really see how much she enjoys them."

"I am excited to take on a new challenge."

With her graduation from high school last May, Allie has recently taken on another exciting challenge: college. As a lifelong Iowa Hawkeye fan, Allie is enrolled in the University of Iowa for Sports and Recreation Management. She aspires to work for a professional sports team or Division I athletic program after finishing college.

Although she is excited for the next step, Allie admits she is going to miss her parents and sister while in Iowa. "My family is my support system," Allie explained. "They listen when I have issues even though they may not always understand what is going on."

"Thanks to Ryan, I am ready to take on the world."

Allie's move to Iowa also closed the chapter on her time in physical therapy. The relationship of mutual trust and respect she has built with Ryan made leaving a tough transition. "Physical therapy was always part of my routine," Allie said. "I need to adjust to doing it on my own or try to find someone else to work with. Either way I am going to miss the comfort I had working with Ryan."

After seven years of seeing each other weekly, Ryan acknowledged it was difficult to watch Allie leave therapy for the last time. "It has been so much fun watching Allie grow, not just in her physical abilities but also how she has grown into a strong young lady," Ryan reflected. "I am proud to have been a part of her growth."

When Allie began physical therapy, she learned how to let go of her fears and put her trust in Ryan. Her courage and determination has prepared her to take on the world. Now, Ryan is excited to watch Allie confidently move on to her next adventure.