Skyler Makes Strides


In many ways, Skyler is an ordinary little boy—and his family thanks his extraordinary care team at Fairview for that.

Skyler likes to run on his grandparents’ farm, chase the family dog and feed the horses in the barn—all of which he can do after receiving physical and occupational therapy at Fairview Northland Medical Center, which helped him overcome many unique physical and developmental challenges.

Skyler was born with Klippel-Feil syndrome, a rare congenital defect that affects the development of cervical vertebrae and other areas of the muscular and skeletal structure. Since birth, Skyler has experienced decreased motion of his neck, arms and legs in addition to overall speech and cognitive delays.

As an 18-month-old, “He could sit, but he could not stand, walk or crawl,” says Jay Gunderson, Skyler’s grandfather.

Skyler’s grandparents (with whom he lives) turned to a team of specialists at Fairview Pediatric Rehabilitation at Fairview Northland for support.

“They really helped us know how to help him,” says Beth, Skylar’s grandmother.

Skyler uses speech therapy services at the rehabilitation center, as well as physical and occupational therapy services to help develop eating and speaking skills. He is also receiving assistance to develop fine motor skills in his hands and locomotion skills, including crawling, standing and running.

Despite the challenges Klippel-Feil syndrome present to Skyler every day, he is a bundle of joy to everyone at the rehabilitation center.

“I can’t tell you what it is (like) to be there for some of the first steps and some of the first words,” says Skyler’s physical therapist, Kim De Mars.

For Kim, the most rewarding moments come when she sees the look in Skyler’s eye that tells her he really “gets it.”

Skyler’s family also sees every day that he “gets it.” When his family came to Fairview Pediatric Rehabilitation services, they were not sure if Skyler would ever walk. Now, his grandparents have to tell him to slow down.

“We’ve got to chase him all over the farm—he’s chasing the dog, the cat. He loves to help out in the barn with the horses, which means feeding them and giving them nightly hugs,” says Jay. ”I want to say thanks to Fairview for taking care of him and doing the work they’ve done for him. It is wonderful.”

Fairview’s Pediatric Rehabilitation program offers a dedicated, enthusiastic team that is committed to helping your child succeed to the best of his or her ability.

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