Spider Cage

8/20/2008 Cleveland It looks like 12-year-old Margaret Biehl is getting ready to run off with the circus, but she's actually training her muscles to do what most kids do without even thinking. Margaret suffered a stroke before she was even six months old and has been in therapy ever since. "At times, I feel like I'm totally strange looking," Biehl says.

Part of her routine at the Cleveland Clinic includes the spider cage -- a colorful system of bungee cords and weights. The goal is to build strength without the fear of falling. "Children who have neurological issues tend to work muscles in a pattern rather than one at a time or being able to isolate them, so this helps teach her -- teach Margaret -- how to use one muscle at a time and also how to isolate one muscle from another," Anne Marie Pace, a physical therapist at the Cleveland Clinic Children's Hospital, told Ivanhoe.

Margaret also uses electrical stimulation therapy and balance exercises. The exhausting workouts, disguised as playtime, are paying off. Even a simple childhood game like jump rope takes a lot of coordination and signifies a huge milestone for Margaret.

"You know you want to fit in so desperately when you're 13, and she wants to fit in," Eileen Biehl, Margaret's mom, told Ivanhoe. Now she is a pre-teen who is one leap closer to being just like everyone else. Margaret recently took part in a charity fund raiser. She jumped rope a total of 12 times and raised $500!

Angie Kiska
Senior Media Relations Manager
The Cleveland Clinic
Cleveland, OH
(216) 444-6002


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