Chris Van Horne, Fort Worth Reporter
A tracking system typically found in adult hospitals is making a big difference for patients at Cook Children's in Fort Worth.
Hospitals face new challenges all the time. At Cook Children's Hospital in Fort Worth, heavier patients led them to invest in a relatively rare technology for a children's hospital and it's having benefits for all patients in the new neurology department.
However slow it may appear, 15-year-old Casey Casilhas, of Belton, is progressing in her recovery from brain surgery.
"The prognosis was she'd never be able to move again. Since that time, she started getting some movement on her right hand and then her right leg," said her father, Bobby Casilhas.
But Casey is still a long ways away from returning to the tennis court where, as a freshman and sophomore, she played on the varsity team at Belton High School.
"I know that's going to be killing her laying there not being able to do that, and it's tough on us, also," Bobby said.
Casey and her family have spent the last three months in a hospital room at Cook Children's Jane and John Justin Neuroscience Center. Two weeks before Thanksgiving, Casey was diagnosed with a tumor. Her doctors sent her Cook Children's for surgery and two weeks before Christmas, the tumor was removed from along her brain stem.
Helping Casey with her recovery is the new rehabilitation gym in the center, recently part of the hospital's expansion. But the workouts there weren't always that productive.
"Getting her into a chair, out of a chair, back into it, was just taking a lot out of her," her father said.
Casey was getting exhausted before ever starting her rehab exercise until staff perfected the use of one its newest tools.
While designing the new space the staff recommended the installation of an overhead tracking system. The $85,000 system connects five patient rooms to the gym and throughout the patient's rooms.
The reason for the system is multi-faceted. The system makes it easier for patients to get around and prevents injuries for hospital staff, especially with child patients becoming heavier.
"Here recently with the obesity problem we have a lot more kids that are bigger and we need more ways to transport them," Kristin Swan, a Cook Children's physical therapist, said.
The "zip line," as it's called by patients and staff, eases movement in and out of rooms for patients of any size and the staff that used to lift them
"It's so much less stressful on the patient and so they have better therapy sessions and they just progress quicker," Swan said.
"You can see her mood, by how well she does in therapy, the better she does in there, the happier she is," Bobby Casilhas said.
While improvements may be subtle, given Casey's initial outlook, they're huge.
"I tell you, all the years I watched her on the tennis court and yelled at her for not moving fast enough, I don't think I saw anything as sweet as the first time she lifted her thumb up," her father said. "You know to see just that little bit of movement was just so awesome."
As it turns out the "zip line" is as uplifting as all the cards, pictures, stuffed animals and Facebook support Casey and her family have received. The Facebook page Helping Casey Casilhas has more than 1,700 friends from 46 states and multiple countries. And every weekend car loads of her friends visit from Belton, often having to fight to get a seat, just to see their friend in the hospital.
It is that kind of support that keeps Casey and her family hopeful that more progress is yet to come.
"I think there's no end to what she can do, she's a fighter," her father said. "She wants to get back out on the courts again, I know she does."