PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Kelly Pierce gently massages the legs of her son. Little Emerson doesn’t let cerebral palsy get him down.

“Good morning, Emerson. Are you ready to go today?” Ellen Kaminski asks.

Kaminski is physical therapy coordinator at the Children’s Institute of Pittsburgh’s Wexford location.

Using his crutches and the therapist’s help, the 4-year-old boy takes one step at a time. He’s nearing the end of his annual “Intensity Program.”

“Children come five days a week for three weeks,” Ellen says. “And they do two-and-a-half hours of therapy a day, and that includes physical and occupational therapy, and also some muscle preparation.”

The Intensity centerpiece is a contraption called the Spider. It allows Emerson a freedom of movement that most of us take for granted.

“We’re pushing to get him to use his crutches much more,” his mother says. “And having him be able to be in the Spider, on the rocker board with resistance, that stability, is really making him feel more confident while on the crutches.”

Two weeks earlier, Emerson could only walk three feet using his crutches. The goal was to get him up to twenty feet by the time the three week program ends. Instead, he’s done sixty, and counting.

He doesn’t even realize the Spider is work.

“Absolutely not,” his therapist says. “He thinks it’s fun in there”

“He comes here and has so much therapy and fun while he’s here, that that’s what he thinks is playtime,” Kelly Pierce adds. “It just makes me feel happy that he’s able to do these things.”

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