Piper’s Story: Courage, Strength and Cerebral Palsy

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She is clothed with strength and dignity and laughs without fear of the future. This describes my precious daughter, Piper. She is a happy and energetic 5-year-old who is affected by spastic hemiplegic cerebral palsy and epilepsy.


Piper was stillborn three months premature and weighed a pound and a half. She was resuscitated and placed on a ventilator. After nine days she began breathing on her own, and I was finally able to hold her in my arms and kiss her tiny head. I was overjoyed that things were headed in the right direction. When Piper was about 2 weeks old I began noticing that her head was not looking right. It was protruding in the front and she became very lethargic. After being examined by a neurologist, it was determined that Piper had hydrocephalus and grade 3 and 4 brain bleeds. I felt like I hit a brick wall.

She immediately went to surgery for a reservoir to be implanted, which was eventually replaced by a permanent shunt. Her prognosis was grim. Everyone was sure that her life would be spent in a vegetative state and that I should not expect much from her. I couldn’t accept this news and decided that I was going to give her every opportunity I possibly could for her to crush their expectations.

PiperAlong with her doctors, we decided that physical therapy was a good place to start. She began physical therapy with Mr. George Bunch at the outpatient physical medicine clinic at Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Hospital Pediatric Development and Therapy Center when she was 6 months old. Early intervention could mean the difference between Piper living an independent life or being dependent on someone for her every need. It was so refreshing that Mr. George shared my hopes and aspirations for Piper and wanted to see her succeed.

PiperWe worked together to assess Piper’s skills, and we established a set of goals that were challenging but realistic for her. The hard work began right away. As months went by, we saw impressive development! Piper was starting to roll over, hold her head up — and at 2 years old, she finally sat up independently for the first time! We then decided to add occupational and speech therapy so Piper could have a comprehensive therapy experience.

Piper has attended therapy for five years now. She can walk with the assistance of a walker. She exhibits good fine motor control and communicates with some vocabulary. The team at Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Hospital is incredible, and they have played an astronomical part in her continued success.
Some of Piper’s other accomplishments include:

  • Being able to count to five
  • Saying her ABCs with some help
  • Winning the title of Very Special Miss Louisiana and being able to represent children with disabilities

She is a very tenacious little girl and takes on new challenges fearlessly. She is truly a joy to our family, and our love for her is immeasurable. I believe we will continue to see many great achievements from this courageous little girl!

Editor’s Note: Click here to read our latest issue of Amazing magazine and learn more about the Pediatric Development and Therapy Center.

About the Author

Tessa Tagert is Piper’s mom.

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