Constraint Camp at UNC Chapel Hill

This week Gabrielle is attending an 8 day constraint induced therapy camp organized by Holly Holland, an occupational therapist at UNC, Chapel Hill. Here is a short article which describes her motivation and vision for the camp.

Today is Gabby’s fourth day and I am so impressed with the effort being put forth to help kids with hemiplegia (paralysis of one side of the body). There are 33 children here this week who struggle with hemiplegia. The hemiplegia in most cases resulted from a stroke although a few are the result of brain malformations, surgery, or trauma. Every child was casted ahead of time and a bivalve cast was made for the unaffected arm. This cast is worn each day on the “good” arm to necessitate use of the affected arm during countless camp activities. Each child is matched with a “helper” who in most cases is an OT/PT student. The campers are broken down into age appropriate groups and then each group rotates in and out of different rooms where activites are organized to facilitate use of the hemiplegic arm. Several of the camp days incorporate a specific theme like “space day” or “luau day” and then all of the activites and snacks revolve around this theme. Many parents and therapists are here volunteering throughout the day helping with campers or prepping crafts, snacks, and activities.

Camp runs for 6 hours each day and the first day I was worried it would be too much for my little Gabby who still enjoys an afternoon nap. One hour before quitting time I was becoming a wreck wondering how she was surviving. I was afraid to check-in on her knowing that if she saw my face that would be the end! Just when I was most panicked a kind grandfather of another camper came by and said,”I just met Gabby and she is delightful!” “You mean she’s doing okay?!” I responded. “Oh, she’s doing great!”, he assured me. Gabby has continued to do well thus far. She was a bit hesistant to leave my side this morning because I think she’s wiped but once she saw her “buddy” Lindsey she came to life. Lindsey has been so wonderful with Ms. Gabby. She is so full of life, beautiful smile, energetic, and bubbly. The perfect match for my sweet girl.

Each day at 3:00pm the little campers ages 3-10 come marching down the hall with their helpers, beaming with pride. My eyes well with tears as I watch each of the proud campers find their way to Mom or Dad presenting them with crafts and doodads from the day. Each of these children and their parents chosen to shoulder special challenges and fighting their way to succeed.

Here is a picture of Gabby with her super duper student therapist Lindsey:

Constraint Therapy video from UAB


  1. Well, I officially welled up with tears reading this! It has been such a pleasure to get to know Gabby (and you) this week. I feel so very blessed to have met her, and you two have NO idea how much this week has meant to me. I think the Lord has been trying to tell me over and over again these past few years that I am meant to be a peds therapist…and I keep telling Him, “NO!” I did not have the confidence or experience…school doesn’t teach me how to interact with kids! I was not qualified for this! I was teaching 3 yo Sunday school at my church, which is where the Lord began to deliver some confidence regarding my minute ability to actually work with children. But this was not enough, right? Well, several other things sort of “fell” into my lap (including this camp), although we know it was all planned by someone much more brilliant than I (praise the Lord, haha), and the idea of pursuing peds began to creep into my mind. However, I have continued to establish my excuses…and have been justifying why I would not succeed in the world of pediatrics. Well, this week has begun to change that for me. I have continued to gain confidence, and Gabby has allowed me to do that. Rather, she has enabled me to do that. She has shown me so many things I cannot even begin to describe that have only furthered my now evident, yet slow growing passion for working with this population. I have grown to love Gabby these past 4 days. I know that seems silly, but I really have. I think because she has done more for me this week than I possibly could have done for her…but how can you not fall in love with this beaming smile and a soul so full of life? Well, she has won my heart! I am really going to miss her. I already planned to offer up my baby-sitting services so I can continue to see her progress and grow, haha! It has been so amazing the gains she has made in just 4 short days, and being a part of that has been truly inspiring and motivating. By the way, I am serious about the baby-sitting…I was thinking it would also be free therapy, hahaha! :) I was so excited to discover that you guys live so close to me and that Gabby attends therapy in my back-yard. I do hope I can somehow continue to see her develop…even if it is only via this blog! It is exciting, and I wanted to thank you so very much for sharing the precious gift Gabby is with me this week. I look forward to the next 4 days, and I cannot wait to see what other gains might be made. P.S. I must confess I totally teared-up when Gabby put the PBJ in her own mouth today…and then again when she did it with a goldfish. I’m such a wimp. Sorry for the word vomit that is my comment, but I wanted you to know what this week has meant to me. Thank you for sharing this with me!!!

  2. Laura Williams says:

    Hello Kelly

    Thanks so much for the update. I had been wondering what a constraint camp was. I had been praying but now I know what I was praying for:) Praising God for the blessing of people that are motivated to do these things. Praising God for Gabby and all that she is learning. Thanks again for keeping us informed so we can remember to pray and feel involved. It really is a gift to read and see the power on God through His children.

Speak Your Mind