Cerebral Palsy Patient Swims 50-Meters and Inspires a Community

swimming poolThere are many inspirational stories about people with cerebral palsy beating the odds and proving doubters wrong. These stories of hope can uplift children with cerebral palsy, helping them push harder and follow their dreams. Cerebral palsy can create challenges, but that doesn’t mean patients can’t overcome them with a bit of perseverance. One cerebral palsy patient exemplifies this: Rebecca Reinisch, a girl who swam the length of a 50-meter pool at the age of 16.

Cerebral Palsy and Aqua Therapy

Swimming can be a great complement to cerebral palsy therapies. The buoyancy given to children with cerebral palsy in the water can help them relax their muscles. Water is so helpful for people with disabilities, in fact, that aqua therapy is a common type of professional therapy. Aqua therapy with a certified professional gives patients intense exercise within a safe and soothing environment. It uses the restorative properties of water to improve physical functioning.

Swimming pools can help rehabilitate individuals with a variety of physical disabilities. Water can be a healing force for children with cerebral palsy. Water changes the laws of gravity and reduces the weight of the body by 90 percent. This buoyancy helps children ambulate more freely than they can outside of the water. Intense aquatic exercises do not place stress on the body or muscles like gravity and weight do. Aqua therapy can improve motor ability, help develop better muscle control, prevent emotional distress, and increase self-confidence.

For some individuals with cerebral palsy, aquatic therapy can do more than improve physical and cognitive capabilities – it can spark a lifelong passion. Rebecca Reinisch is one example of many youth who discovered the joys of swimming thanks to aquatic therapy for cerebral palsy. Rebecca began swimming outside of aqua therapy, with help from parents and coaches at her local pool. It wasn’t long until Rebecca set her sights on a lofty goal: swimming the full 50 meters of the school swimming pool.

About Rebecca Reinisch

Rebecca was just one pound, 13 ounces when she was born. She was born three months premature, with issues in fetal brain development. Physicians diagnosed her with one of the most severe forms of cerebral palsy – quadriplegia cerebral palsy. People with quadriplegia cerebral palsy lose the use of all four limbs, as well as the trunk of the body. The brain can no longer send signals to the rest of the body, causing permanent paralysis and loss of sensation.

At just three years old, Rebecca had her first surgery. By the time she was 16, Rebecca had been under the knife for corrective surgeries 11 times. Surgery is a common form of treatment for severe cases of cerebral palsy, generally to increase mobility and ease tendon tightness. Despite her physical limitations, Rebecca has loved the water from an early age. She started swimming lessons at a young age, combined with aqua therapy and other water-based recreational therapies.

The swimming lessons inspired Rebecca to join the swim team at her school – something her fifth-grade teacher and swim coach (Diedra Vinson) helped make possible. Rebecca is friends with Diedra’s daughter, Jordan. Jordan and Rebecca swim together, joined by Rebecca’s younger sister, Raeanne, who is also on the school swim team. Diedra and Rebecca’s mother worked together to help Rebecca swim more effectively, using assistive and mobility technologies. It was Rebecca’s determination to succeed, however, that got her to the swim meet.

Rebecca’s Amazing 50-Meter Swim

Cerebral palsy has not gotten in the way of Rebecca’s progress as a swimmer. With help from her coach and her mother, Rebecca achieved something many people didn’t think possible: completing a 50-meter swim across the length of the pool in a swim meet. Completing the 50-meter swim was something Rebecca was determined to achieve as soon as she heard about the upcoming meet. It took a lot of work, but Rebecca achieved her goal alongside everyone else on the swim team.

Rebecca’s determination and perseverance inspired many others in her community. Diedra, the swim coach, said she would not have taught another year due to health problems, but she came back because of Rebecca. Diedra says people come up to her and tell her what an inspiration Rebecca is when she swims. She says Rebecca’s swimming “touches everybody’s heart.” Rebecca Reinisch is one of many inspirational patients living with cerebral palsy and not letting it get in the way of fulfilling her dreams.

Other Inspirational Stories About Youth With Cerebral Palsy

It can be easy to focus on all the things children with cerebral palsy can’t do, rather than the things they can do. Living with cerebral palsy may come with unique challenges and obstacles, but it doesn’t have to limit a child’s enjoyment of life. Encouraging and supporting children with this condition to try new things, enjoy recreational activities, and explore their full potential can change a child’s life. Just as Rebecca achieved something great and inspired her community, so too can your child with cerebral palsy.