Deanna Bakken

'NDAD has been a lifesaver for me'

Deanna Bakken (right), with her mom, Kay (2015)
Just a few weeks before Christmas 2014, Deanna Bakken had something she really wanted her mom and dad to see.

So, Kay and Garry Bakken obliged her and went to see Deanna, who has cerebral palsy, work with her new Fargo physical therapist, Kari Torgerson.

They saw far more than they had expected: Deanna stood and took a few steps— with the aid of a special, heavy-duty walker.

Deanna, now 49, hadn’t successfully used any walker in about a quarter century. Given her cerebral atrophy, no change was expected.

“It was a complete shock,” Kay Bakken recalled, “because I never thought I would see my daughter walk like that again.”

Deanna recalls, “My mom had tears in her eyes and told my therapist, ‘This is the best Christmas gift ever.’”
Deanna began losing her coordination and falling more frequently while she was earning her bachelor’s degree in accounting at Minot State in the late 1980s. “I never got hurt,” she recalls, “but I knew it wasn’t going to work any more.”

Fast forward to late 2014. Deanna, who quips that walkers were dangerous weapons in her hands, seized Torgerson’s offer to try a U-Step Walking Stabilizer in therapy.

The device has a u-shaped base that adds walking stability for patients with neurological problems, such as Parkinson’s disease. It also has a tension adjustment for controlling the rolling speed.

With therapy, Deanna showed so much progress that she contacted NDAD to see whether she could get help obtaining the costly walking device. NDAD approved her application.

“NDAD has been a lifesaver for me,” she said.
Twice-weekly therapy since has given Deanna new muscle strength and stability. She may never walk on her own again, but where she once could stand alone for only seconds, Deanna now can remain upright on her own for three or four minutes.

“I’ve made tremendous progress,” Deanna said.

Enough progress, certainly, to make a grateful mom cry.

-- Mike Brue

The writer is communications director of NDAD.

NOTE: Originally published in the fall of 2015.