Perseverance, Community, and Good Snacks: Raphael’s Story

Sitting in the doctor’s office at 31 weeks pregnant, Raphael’s mom, Katie, began to worry. Her son had stopped being the playful, active baby in her womb that she had grown to know. Instead of sleepless nights filled with kicks and days filled with baby flutters, Katie’s belly felt still. Instead of being able to reassure Katie, her doctors insisted that labor induction at 32 weeks was the best option. “It will be easier to diagnose and treat him outside of your belly than from the inside,” they said.

Feeling as if her last few weeks to prepare for her new baby had been ripped out from under her, Katie tried to keep her positive mindset, constantly reminding herself that in a few days, her baby boy would be in her arms. It was not long after he entered the world that Raphael was diagnosed with cerebral palsy, a motor disorder caused by an injury in the brain or the spinal region. The news was devastating; it was difficult for Katie and her partner to know the severity of Raphael’s diagnosis at such a young age, so they thought the worst.

As it turns out, Raphael’s situation is better than it could have been. His paralysis is partial instead of total. With love from his family and resources from CRIT, he has been able to navigate his diagnosis and live a happy life, even if it comes with significant obstacles. The doctors warned Katie that Raphael’s health would become a focal point in their lives; he would have many doctor’s appointments, therapies, and treatments to help him learn how to live with cerebral palsy.

After Raphael’s 3rd birthday, Katie found out about CRIT through some close friends in Houston. She loved the personalized treatment approach that CRIT offered. If she had learned one thing in the first three years of her little boy’s life, it was that every diagnosis is different, and kids deserved personalized care.

At CRIT, Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Physicians monitor each child’s plans of care to ensure they are always in their best interest. CRIT provides its patients with physical, speech, and occupational therapies, social work, nutrition, and other services with a holistic approach. Wellness is holistic, and CRIT treats it as such. With the help of Raphael’s physician, Katie applied to CRIT, gaining acceptance shortly after.

Katie was unsure exactly what to expect, but she knew that providing her son with resources and trained professionals working together was probably the best approach. When she first walked in, clutching Raphael’s hand, Katie was relieved by the friendly faces that greeted her. She remembers the kind words the receptionists had that time and every time since, making her and Raphael feel more like family than patients.

Raphael’s rehabilitation journey has improved his life over the years, helping him navigate while strengthening his muscles and language abilities. Katie cannot imagine Raphael’s life without CRIT; raising a child always takes a village, and the staff at CRIT are a big part of Raphael’s village.

Aside from the therapies he has received, Raphael has benefited from the sense of community at CRIT. His therapists, past and present, have all left lasting impacts on his life. The community programs offered at the facility help Raphael connect with other kids his age, encouraging play and socialization, which is critical for developing brains.

Though his life has been filled with therapies, treatments, and doctor’s offices, it has also been filled with laughter, memories, and amazing people. Raphael is notorious for showing up to therapy with a snack in hand and a smile on his face. CRIT has become much more than a treatment facility; for Katie and Raphael, CRIT is a second home.

Looking back, Katie is so thankful that those doctors decided to induce labor early. As scared as she was, this enabled her to get a diagnosis for her son and start treatments as early as possible. Though some days are harder for Raphael than others, he has been committed his whole life to give each day his all, even when he was just a tiny newborn.

Katie encourages other parents with children with disabilities to seek treatment and advocate for their kids, but more importantly, keep a positive mindset. Focusing on the diagnosis takes away from allowing each child to flourish as they are. CRIT has helped empower Raphael and hundreds of other kids just like him. With their help and services, these kids are given a better chance at finding a community in this world and leading lives that make them happy, which is all any parent wants for their child.