January 7, 2021: What do you do when a complication during delivery starves your newborn son’s brain of oxygen, sending him to the neonatal intensive care unit for emergency action before you even have a chance to hold him? How do you deal with multiple days of uncertainty about the extent of the damage, multiple weeks before you finally can bring your infant home, and multiple years of therapies to ensure that your little boy hits developmental milestones and can fully live the life that he deserves?
If you’re parents Vanessa and Dorian Starkey, you respond with faith, hope, and determination every step of the way.
If you’re physical therapist Anna Howard, you and your care team shepherd little Eli through a damage-halting cooling procedure, help him develop the skills that he’ll need beyond the NICU, and work with the Starkeys over the course of six years on things like Eli’s balance, coordination, fine motor skills, communication, and muscle strength.
Oh, and if you’re Eli himself, you respond to all the adversity with determination, and a big smile. You don’t accept barriers because your mom and dad have assured you that you can do anything you set your mind to do, and because “Miss Anna” and your care team have set you up for success.
In this episode of Move Forward Radio, Vanessa, Dorian, and Anna share the inspiring story of a once endangered infant whose initial silence raised alarm bells, but who grew up to become a chatty and energetic kid whose future is bright.
Here’s our conversation.
Download the podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or Google Play, or listen below.
Anna Howard, PT, BS, is a board-certified clinical specialist in pediatric physical therapy who treats children from birth to 18 years in both outpatient and NICU settings at Baton Rouge General Medical Center. As a certified neonatal therapist, an APTA credentialed clinical instructor, and with a certification in neuromuscular development techniques in pediatrics, Anna is committed to providing outstanding care for the little ones she cares for and to empowering them, their parents, and caregivers through patient education.
Dorian and Vanessa Starkey of Livingston, Louisiana, are the proud parents of six-year old Eli. Their drive and commitment to do whatever it took to help their son recover from a birth injury that caused severe brain damage was a big key to Eli’s success in overcoming so much. Their efforts exemplify what every physical therapist hopes patients and caregivers will do with what they learn in the clinic.