Bernhard Ficker, 10 years old

Clinical picture: spastic cerebral palsy after tuberculosis vaccination

Petra Ficker, mother of Bernhard, writes:

Bernhard has reduced fine motor skills; he walks on a right club foot posture. He uses his left hand almost entirely, his right one only when he absolutely has to. Bernhard is constantly drooling and can only utter only single sounds and letters like ja, ein, mama, eia, a, e, i, o, u. His intelligence is normal, but he can’t always focus that well.

What I expected from dolphin assisted therapy:

Since I have tried different therapies with Bernhard for the last nine years, I am sceptical towards new concepts of therapy. You only hear about those cases that are a huge success. So, it comes to no surprise that my expectations weren’t that high.

I had that much confidence to say that it could help Bernhard a bit. I didn’t want to tie myself down on what that might be and to which degree exactly, except that he might be able to control his constant drooling better.

What improved during therapy?

The improvement of his musculoskeletal system was huge. The posture of the club foot disappeared within a few days. Without asking him to do so, Bernhard spontaneously used his right hand. His articulation improved, and on some days, I had the impression that the constant drooling would decrease.

Which therapeutic success is still there after eight weeks?

Bernhard’s fine motor skills, especially the right hand, haven’t deteriorated since we arrived back home. He still uses it for small things. The drooling has indeed decreased. Before therapy, we needed at least three bibs to keep the kid dry. Now there are days (not every day is the same) where one bib is enough. Bernhard realises that he is able to swallow and only asks for a bib when he has a good day.

Unfortunately, he completely lost the ability to walk on his right foot, but I expected this when we still were in Florida. But maybe physiotherapy can help to get rid of the club foot posture for good. We are definitely working on it.

My opinion about repeating the therapy:

Half a year ago I said: I will wait and see. But to be honest, now I would like to do the therapy again, because it helped my child make great progress. Personally, I would emphasize on the contact with the dolphins than the exercises that the therapists made with the kids on land.

But it’s a problem to finance this wish, because both the health insurance companies and the social and youth welfare offices duck out of awarding a grant for this effective therapy.

What has dolphin aid e.V. done for us?

dolphin aid has made all the reservations (hotel, therapy, flight) for us. Thanks to dolphin aid, my son and I could enjoy free flights by LTU and the therapy was $100 cheaper per week. The “dolphin aid car” picked us up for therapy and brought us back to the hotel again.

But the financial aspect isn’t everything. dolphin aid took care for us on-site. We had three “super tutors” that wonderfully took care of our children during and after therapy. They also assisted us parents with words and deeds.

The three tutors didn’t only answer therapy related questions but also supported us interpersonally which is as important as a tightly organised programme.

So, all I have to say is: I would like to go back to Florida and I will. But when it’s time, I hope that dolphin aid will take me with them again.

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