The Proof

Condition: Cerebral Palsy

Experience:  Born with cerebral palsy, Cheryl started physical therapy very early in life. She learned to walk without assistance as a young child, but over time a series of ineffective surgeries, musculoskeletal issues, and balance problems reduced Cheryl’s ability to move independently. One surgeon told Cheryl that she would never walk again.

Cheryl, full of grit and determination, did not take no for an answer. Even as an adult, she was relentless in her pursuit of learning to walk and sought a therapist in her area who would work with her. However, most clinics turned her away because cerebral palsy is a “preexisting condition” and they did not believe she could make progress. Several therapists eventually agreed to work with her through hydrotherapy and strengthening machines. Despite Cheryl’s commitment, there was something missing, and any gains made were frustratingly small.

Finally, Cheryl was told about The Gait Center in Richmond, several hours from her home in Northern Virginia. Willing to do anything to walk again, Cheryl made the drive to meet David Lawrence and immediately agreed to continue her therapy there. Cheryl grew in strength and endurance under David’s expert eye and guided care. Her persistence was rewarded when her favorite singer, Steven Tyler of Aerosmith, noticed her new skills and asked her to duet with him at a show. Cheryl walked on stage singing “Walk This Way.”

Cheryl continues to progress with David. “David teaches you how to walk. He doesn’t just do physical therapy- he teaches you how to change,” she says. All the therapists at The Gait Center encourage her to keep working hard towards her goals and don’t “let [her] get away with anything.” With her increasing mobility, Cheryl is able to pursue more of her interests. She is a regular NASCAR race attendee, enjoys riding motorcycles, and never misses an opportunity to see Aerosmith in concert.

Personal interests: motorcycles, NASCAR, Aerosmith

“[David] doesn’t just do physical therapy- he teaches you how to change.”