Marionna's new bike
Every day is a great day here at Gundersen Saint Joseph's Hospital and Clinics, but today is extra special.
Today, the hallways of Gundersen St. Joseph's Hospital and Clinics Hillsboro are Marionna Slaney's personal bike course. The 13-year-old from Wonewoc shrieks with glee while testing out her brand new tricycle as her biggest fans, Gundersen St. Joseph's staff, cheer her on.
Marionna was born with a diaphragmatic hernia, a condition that allows abdominal organs (stomach, intestines, spleen and liver) to move up into the chest. Diaphragmatic hernias are always considered medical emergencies as they cause breathing difficulties and problems with blood flow.
Due to her condition, Marionna suffered four strokes in her first six days of life. Later, Marionna was diagnosed with cerebral palsy – a condition affecting body movement, posture and muscle tone.
Since preschool, Marionna has been working with Cassidy Sanchez, PT, PCS, physical therapist at Gundersen St. Joseph's, who specializes in pediatric physical therapy. Cassidy is also the president of Western Wisconsin Wheels, a local chapter of AMBUCS – a national non-profit organization committed to providing adaptive bicycles and tricycles to children and adults with disabilities.
Marionna is due to have surgery to help straighten her legs and improve her walking ability. "The doctor suggested working on stretching the legs, and Cassidy introduced us to the idea of having a bike to help with that," said Dorinda Slaney, Marionna's mom.
"We hold a 'rodeo' every year where kids who are interested or in need of an adaptive bike can come and try them out. Marionna came to our rodeo last year and really enjoyed it," said Cassidy, as she tightens a bolt on the bike. "As a therapist, I want to see our patients get the most out of their mobility, and that's why I'm involved with Western Wisconsin Wheels. These bikes help with stretching, strengthening, and they will grow and adapt with the user. It's great for their mobility, freedom and self-esteem."
During her fitting, Marionna had the opportunity to ride the bike in the hallways, working on pedaling, braking and steering. This will be the 39th bike Western Wisconsin Wheels has provided since its inception in 2015.
When asked what she thought of the bike, Marionna smiled and said "It's awesome!"
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