International patient Meihui Wang rolled into the University of Chicago Medicine in a wheelchair and came out walking tall. In early November, the nine-year-old returned home to family and friends in Shenyang, China, who were elated and astounded at her progress over 10 weeks of physical therapy at the medical center.
"I am happy because I can walk like a normal person now," Meihui said.
Surgery to remove a vascular tumor in her calf muscle at three years of age left her with scar tissue over the muscle, which prevented her left leg from growing properly. Two years ago, she could no longer put her left heel all the way down or straighten her knee, causing her to walk on tiptoe with bent knee.
"We did not expect her to get better in such a short time frame."
Two years of physical therapy in China failed to help. Then a friend of her father's business partner encouraged the family to visit UChicago Medicine. Meihui and her mother, Rui Jia, came here for two weeks in June 2015 for consultations with pediatric surgeon Jessica Kandel, MD, and interventional pain specialist Magdalena Anitescu, MD, PhD. In September, Meihui began 10 weeks of physical therapy with Colleen Peyton, PT, DPT, PCS.
The physical therapist used a series of 12 casts to help straighten Meihui's knee and bring her heel closer to the ground. "At first, she was reluctant to stand because she was afraid of the pain. But after a few days, she would walk around the physical therapy room without being asked, just because she could," Peyton said.