For many months, Gabrielle Pinette, a doe-eyed four-year-old from Kelowna, struggled with daily seizures – the effect of a tumour in her brain.
The tumour was so full of blood vessels that it was deemed inoperable. But after many months of consultation and study, BC Children’s neurosurgeon Dr. Paul Steinbok and radiologist Dr. Manraj Heran figured out a way to remove the tumour: they’d induce a stroke in Gabrielle, embolize an artery to block the blood flow and then deflate the tumour.
The operation was conducted in the fall of 2014, and it was a success – Gabrielle’s tumour is gone. But the stroke left Gabrielle’s left side paralyzed and she lost much of her speech capabilities. This led to a two-month stay, followed by frequent outpatient visits, at Sunny Hill Health Centre for Children.
There, Gabrielle took on various exercises to help regain her mobility and speech. Sunny Hill caregivers exposed her to everything from specialized sensory rooms and aquatic therapies, to physiotherapy and occupational and speech therapy.
"The team at BC Children's Hospital and Sunny Hill Health Centre for Children has been a lifeline for my daughter," says Christine, mother of Gabrielle. "As she recovered from brain surgery and a stroke, the technology support devices and physiotherapy were critical for Gabrielle’s recovery from such a traumatic situation. I can’t imagine how she would be today without the Sunny Hill team and the tools they provide through donor support."
“It is inevitable that bonds develop between therapists and patients because they are interacting daily and it was a pleasure to watch Gabrielle make progress under their care,” says Christine. “The nursing and medical teams, as well as her caregivers, were all very hands-on and sensitive to my daughter's needs.”
“The other big piece to the puzzle of brain injury recovery is patience and rest. The Sunny Hill team continually reminded me of that and provided us with a safe, quiet place to allow that recovery to happen. I am forever grateful.”
Although Gabrielle’s journey back to health has been a long and tough one, thanks to Sunny Hill’s therapists who continue to treat her on an outpatient basis, Gabrielle has now regained much of her mobility on her left side.