Children with physical disabilities experience San Antonio Zoo in new way

Equipment allows children to stand, walk with tortoises, pet rhinos

By Troy Blevins - Graham Media Group

SAN ANTONIO - An interactive therapy session was coordinated to provide a new way for young patients with physical disabilities to experience the San Antonio Zoo.

The Methodist Children's Hospital rehabilitation team, which had the help of San Antonio Zoo staff, coordinated the session. Hospital officials said four children weren't limited by the boundaries of their wheelchairs Thursday thanks to the team.

Most of the time, the children are unable to interact at the level of their peers during an outing, like a day at the zoo, hospital officials said. The rehabilitation therapists set up a piece of equipment that allowed the children to stand and walk with tortoises and pet rhinos.

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"This gives them the opportunity to be upright with their peers, their siblings and their family," pediatric physical therapist Tiffany Neal said. "They're able to do exactly what their sisters and brothers are doing."

Neal said the outing turned a therapy session that can be difficult and tiring for the child into a fun and memorable experience.

"These kids come to therapy every single week and work so hard for the goal of walking, and this gives them the opportunity to tie that goal together for a recreational purpose," Neal said.

Officials said Methodist Children's Hospital hopes to provide more experiences like this to more of its patients in the near future.

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