Most toddlers make occasional trips to the doctor for an illness, an immunization or an annual check-up. Three-year-old Kendyll Quick has a different story; she's been back and forth from appointments at doctors' offices and hospitals most of her young life because of a rare disease that she was diagnosed with in 2010.
Kendyll has a condition known as Cogan-type Cogenital Oculomotor Apraxia (or COMA), specifically Type II, which has made her a regular at East Tennessee Children's Hospital's Rehabilitation Center in West Knoxville.
Because of COMA, Type II, Kendyll has major problems with her eyes, their movement and how they relate back to her brain. As a baby, she couldn't track or follow anything and lacked basic motor skills. "Where we can track movement with our eyes, Kendyll has to move her head along," Kendyll's mother, Melissa, explained.
Melissa and her husband, Alex, credit the Children's Hospital Rehab Center for Kendyll's progress. "She doesn't have a lot of muscle tone," Melissa said. "But she's gone from nothing to being able to sit, crawl and walk on her own." Kendyll sat when she was a year old, crawled at age two and has begun walking now at three years old. Not only is Kendyll walking, but she also is working on walking independently.
The Quicks value the one-on-one, individualized care that the Children's Hospital Rehab Center provides. Because the therapists know Kendyll well, they are well aware of how to respond to her needs.
While working on walking in physical therapy, the therapists use toys, dolls and other items that grab Kendyll's attention to work with her, holding the items a few feet away and having her walk to get them. "Last week, she walked 30 feet," Melissa said.
In occupational therapy, Kendyll and her therapists work on fine motor skills to get her up to speed on drawing, coloring, cutting and even dressing and undressing herself. "They'll do things like show her how to hold a crayon or put coins in a piggy bank," her mom said.
"I don't know what she'd be doing if it wasn't for (the therapists)," Melissa said. "She's stubborn. Her therapist knows her though and doesn't let her get away with it." The Children's Hospital Rehabilitation Center's goal is to continue to help Kendyll develop her motor skills. "They always come up with new, creative ideas, too," Melissa said.
The Quicks plan to continue to send her to the Children's Hospital Rehab Center even though she'll be starting preschool soon, because they want her to continue to receive the individualized care. "The Rehab Center is a blessing for us," she said. "They're so willing to constantly try to meet her needs and can answer questions. Everybody loves her and knows her on a personal level."
"She loves that therapy center," Melissa said. "They are like family to us."
A Little Bit More About Kendyll
Name: Kendyll Quick
Personality Traits: Happy, outgoing and loves to be the center of attention.
Words she can say: "Yeah."
Favorite color: Pink or purple
Favorite food: Yogurt
Favorite song: "Rumor Has It" by Adele.
Favorite activity: Playing with and feeding her baby doll
Likes: "Anything cat or Hello Kitty, especially if it's sparkly. She goes crazy over that stuff." Shoes. "If that child is pitching a fit at the store, and you tell her you're going to try on shoes, she'll stop."