Preschooler Makes Significant Strides
Words and Photos by Olivia Minnier
Upon entering the Tishunin family’s apartment, a very bright and cheerful child pushes his wheelchair over to introduce himself, and his stuffed bear companion sitting in his lap. He was in the middle of watching cartoons and having an afternoon snack and was getting ready to play in his playroom. A typical afternoon for an active preschooler.
Dmitrii Tishunin, who just turned four in May, has made significant progress in the amount of time he’s been receiving services. He was diagnosed with Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) Type II when he was young. SMA is a rare hereditary genetic condition in which muscles are weakened because nerve cells in the spinal cord and brain stem do not work properly and are discovered in young children. With type two, children can usually sit up without support at some point, but likely cannot walk on their own.
Dmitrii’s mother, Viktoriia Tishunin, said she works on therapy and movements with her son for 2-3 hours every day. She has a variety of devices and items inside of the apartment they use to assist Dmitrii including a whole body vibration therapy plate, a stander, a walker, miniature dumbbells, a pelvic support belt, braces for his limbs, and a vibrational device for his arms and hands.
Additionally, he has to stand vertically every day to let his organs expand, specifically the digestive system, and to take the pressure off of his joints. Viktoriia said he also attends physical therapy once a week.
Viktoriia said that through this extensive work every day, Dmitrii is able to scoot himself around on his own and crawl. He is working towards being able to walk on his own with the support of a walker. He has recently started making significant progress in this area and can walk slowly while supervised with a walker. She said the neurologists he’s seen at Nationwide Children’s Hospital have been “amazed and have asked us how we’ve achieved this progress.”
She said that they’ve been able to talk with other parents whose children also have the diagnosis and that has been very helpful for them to expand their knowledge. She said they wanted to share their son’s story to help other parents in a similar way. She said they’ve been very pleased with his progress through all the hard work they do every day.
Dmitrii is a typical vibrant four-year-old who enjoys playing with his trucks, and cars, watching cartoons, and playing doctor with his stuffed animals. Viktoriia said he is currently attending preschool three to four days a week. While at school, she said he’s learned how to cut out shapes with scissors, hold a pencil, and other fine motor skills. He is a well-liked classmate by both teachers and other students.
When asked about how he feels about the exercises he does with his mom every day, he said he “likes them just fine.”
While at home, Dmitrii was very busy showing off all of his toys and cars, while mom described funny anecdotes about his antics within the family. She said he is a very smart child and he frequently asks her questions she doesn’t know the answer to. “Google is very helpful,” she said.
Viktoriia said it has been wonderful to see her son become more self-sufficient.
“We are happy for his achievements and success. We do everything so our child can get stronger and better.”
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