Helping Kids with Special Needs Thrive with Physical Therapy

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - One teenager with special needs thrives with physical therapy after getting involve in a pediatric therapy program.

Nate Gourdine, 13, a student at Sedgefield Middle School leaves happiness wherever he goes with his positive outlook on life.

“Be confident and spread joy to the world,” Gourdine says. On this day he’s not only spreading his message but getting in a therapy session at one of his favorite places.

Nate has been going to the the Pediatric Therapy Program at the Trident Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation Center since he was 2.

“I just love this place it’s very fun for me and it’s very encouraging,” Gourdine says.

As an infant, Nate was diagnosed with diaplegia a form or cerebral palsy that mainly affects the lower portion of his body.

He was born three months early and came out weighing only a pound.

The therapy center is helping Nate with his speech, hand and eye coordination and balance.

Just last year Nate hit a major milestone by walking for the first time. “People wait for their kids to take their first steps that’s huge and we are like Nate you are doing it,” Nate’s parents says.

His parents, Nathan and Marcia Gourdine says their son has come a long way with his therapy.

They say when he was a baby they were told he would never walk, talk or grab but he continues to prove everybody wrong.

During Nate’s weekly session therapists work to teach him to be more independent.

Nate’s physical therapist Emily Szymkowicz helps him to learn balance, writing, how to button a shirt, throw and catch a ball, building up his his muscle memory and strength.

“90 percent is the willingness to do it and 10 percent is guiding the patients,” Szymkowicz says.

Every step of the way Nate is getting stronger, mentally and physically.

His parents credit his therapy and his drive.

“He thrives and what Nate does is push himself and is determined and is a very happy child,” Nate’s father says. “I just think its possible anything is possible if you put your mind to it."

Szymkowicz says most of the time, a developmental problem is not something a child will "grow out of" on his or her own.

With help, children can reach their personal potential and in many cases thrive.

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