At 3 and a half years old, most children know around 800 words and can talk in complete sentences, however little Isabella Barney from New York was not most children. Diagnosed with Childhood Apraxia Syndrome (CAS), she had difficulty moving the body parts that are required for clear speech – lips, jaw and tongue. Although she was undoubtedly a bright child, she couldn’t even say her brother’s name.
While a diagnosis of CAS usually means years of speech therapy, Isabella was lucky enough to have far-sighted parents. When she was born, Steven and Rosa Barney had arranged to have her cord blood collected and cryogenically frozen.
Having cord blood stem cells available opened new doors for Isabella’s CAS treatment. Steven discovered that Duke University in North Carolina was doing cord blood transfusions to treat apraxia and was having success. Deciding to give Isabella the benefit of her banked stem cells was a logical decision.
The transfusion process took around 10 minutes and Isabella was only in hospital for a couple of hours. Within three weeks, her speech had improved noticeably. Not only could she say her brother Matthew’s name clearly, she could form complete sentences. Every day she gained new words, as well as the confidence that comes with being able to express herself easily.
Isabella’s family liken their cord blood experience to winning the lottery. If they hand’t stored their little girl’s cord blood, treating her apraxia would have been a long and frustrating process – potentially years of therapy.
Every day Isabella gets chattier and more confident as her brain learns how to plan the precise facial movements required for speech.