When Harper Comparin was born, doctors told her parents that she may never be able to walk.
The little girl had been diagnosed with spina bifida, a severe birth defect that occurs when the spinal cord doesn’t form properly.
She saw that Harper loved the children’s song Baby Shark with its infamous ‘doo doo doo doo’ chant that plays throughout.
Using it as a metronome, she helped the two-year-old learn to walk to the beat on a treadmill, and now the toddler is walking – and even running – across a room on her own.
Harper Comparin, two (left and right), from St Petersburg, Florida, was diagnosed with spina bifida before she was born. Spina bifida is a birth defect that occurs when the spinal cord doesn’t form properly,
Harper’s parents were told that she would likely never walk, until they met a pediatric physical therapist at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital in St Petersburg, Florida. Pictured: Harper walking in physical therapy
Harper was diagnosed with spina bifida while her mother, Erica, was pregnant with her.
Spina bifida is a defect of the neural tube, a structure from which the brain and spinal cord form.
It normally closes early in pregnancy. But, in those with spina bifida, the neural tube fails to develop or properly close,
This leaves the spine and the nerves susceptible to trauma and damage.
The condition’s symptoms can range from mild to severe, and leave sufferers with physical and intellectual disabilities.
Children often suffer from walking and mobility problems due to weak muscles or nerves in the legs not working properly.
They can also experience bowel and bladder problems, difficulty breathing and swallowing, and a have higher risk of wounds.
Currently, there is no cure for spina bifida. Treatment consists of managing symptoms and preventing complications.
More than 1,600 babies are born with spina bifida each year in the US, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Dr Michelle Schultz, a pediatric physical therapist at Johns Hopkins, said that when she first met Harper, the little girl was suspicious of her new doctor.
‘When we first met, she probably thought I was another doctor that was gonna poke her, you know, pull some blood,’ Dr Schultz told WFTS.
‘That was a big barrier we really had to cross at first, to gain her trust.’
Harper’s physical therapist used Baby Shark, the children’s song about a family of sharks, as a metronome. Using the ‘doo doo doo doo’ chant that plays throughout the song, Harper learned to walk to the beat. Pictured: Harper with her father and brother, left, and with her mother and father, right
Now, Harper (pictured, in physical therapy) has been smiling more, has started walking and loves playing with her older brother, Kellen, who doesn’t have the condition
Dr Schultz said she saw that Harper liked Baby Shark, a children’s song about a family of sharks, and was inspired to use it to help the toddler walk.
‘I like the tune of that song,’ she said. ‘I use it like a metronome. I want her to walk to that beat. Doo doo doo! Pick up the speed, let’s go, we gotta walk faster.’
Dr Schultz also helps teach Harper other movements with activities such as playing catch and going ‘grocery shopping’.
Now, Harper has been smiling more, has started talking and loves playing with her older brother, Kellen, who doesn’t have the condition.
‘When she first stood up and started walking five or six feet, I was like: “Are you serious?” her father, Fred, told WFTS. ‘She’ll now walk up to just random people and just say: “Hi!”‘