Approximately 50% to 60% of children diagnosed with cerebral palsy will eventually learn to walk without aid. But because cerebral palsy has an impact on muscle coordination, balance, and limb movement, even those who fall into the latter statistic may face unique challenges when walking.
Five-year-old Briella Naif knows the complications associated with being taught how to walk. After being diagnosed with spastic diplegic cerebral palsy at the age of 21 months, her parents immediately got her the speech, occupational, and physical therapies she required. Fortunately, these therapies helped her walk without the need for special equipment, but it wasn’t easy. That’s when her family decided to give her a puppy as a reward for all of her hard work and dedication!
“Briella needed a companion and emotional support dog. With all of her hard work in physical therapy programs and watching her take so many independent steps, I knew getting a dog would be so motivating for her,” said Briella’s mother.
Not only did her family believe getting their daughter a puppy was an excellent reward, but they knew Briella would be equally as ecstatic about the decision.
“I knew in one of the last days of therapy when I watched her walk independently with a little toy dog that we just had to get her a real one. She had been asking for a dog every day this past year and she would sign ‘little dog.'”
The Naifs made Briella’s dog dream come true on November 20, 2020, when they picked up an eight-week-old pomsky (a cross between a pomeranian and a husky) named Mieka. The second Briella met her furry friend, she was cheesing from cheek to cheek.”The whole way home Briella was smiling, giggling and laughing at every move Mieka made.”And it looks like the family chose the perfect dog for their sweet little girl!
“Briella loves Mieka’s soft fur and her blue eyes. She also loves when she wags her tail and sticks her tongue out.”With working numerous hours in therapy over the past few years, Briella certainly earned her new canine pal. But learning to walk independently was just one milestone she has had to make so far.
According to her family, “Briella faces many difficulties daily, primarily being able to move around and with her speech… Cerebral Palsy affects muscle movement, coordination and balance. She is working hard in physical therapy to gain strength for walking independently and for a better quality of life as she continues to grow. Briella also uses sign language to help communicate to others.” Nonetheless, “Briella is a happy and smiley five-year-old girl who doesn’t let cerebral palsy stop her.”
The Naifs know that with Briella’s positive mindset, she will continue to make triumphs regardless of her condition. Although she had incredible improvement, they hope that with the addition of the energic pomsky to the family, their daughter will be motivated to continue to make further advancements in her walking.
See adorable Briella meet her puppy in the clip below!