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How Easterseals helped one boy feel less pain

PEORIA, Ill. - "Just over the past year, he's able to self-regulate," says Heather Giarnella, Beni's Mom. "He's able to recognize his own body cues and it's, we've seen an improvement with him and I think he just feels better."

Abenzio 'Beni' Giarnella was born with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS) Type 3 Hypermobility and Eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE).

"He looks like he can, he's double-jointed like he can do party tricks in that way," says Heather. "And the problem with that is that he can do it, and he's not in any pain from it, but then, later on, he is in pain because he's hyperextended his joints."

Not only does that hyperextension cause Beni pain, but it also could be detrimental to his future mobility.

"If he continues to hyperextend, it will continue to erode the joints," says Heather. "And then he could easily be 20 years old in a wheelchair."

About a year ago, Beni's family learned about Easterseals. Working with physical therapist, Michelle Yuen, Beni has improved his strength and flexibility.

"When we're in the pool, it's very goal-directed," says Yuen. "So we have a certain fit goal that we're working to accomplish. And then the child is doing different activities to help build that strength or build that endurance."

And Beni's favorite part of therapy? Being in the pool.

"It is a therapy pool," says Yuen. "So it's 98 degrees and it's maintained for that reason so the kids have that warm water to help their muscles."

Beni has lots of fun with his pool therapy. But more importantly, he's in less pain.

"As a therapist, that's one of the best parts of our job is when you know we're able to help the kids get back to [...] things they really enjoy doing," says Yuen.

Seeing him make such big strides within a year, Beni's mom is thankful for the help and support of Easterseals.

"This is where we're supposed to be," says Heather. "This is the right therapist, the right place to be, and the process that they have for him, that's working."

And when we asked Beni's mom if she's still worried about Beni's future, she shook her head and smiled.

"He's okay," says Heather. "He's okay, he's going to be just fine."

Joins us for the all-new two day Easterseals Telethon starting on March 2nd. 

You can donate now by going to EastersealsCI.com or text 'Give' to (309) 247-1411.


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