Physical therapy helps Dominican Republic girl walk again

Alexa Mendez’s family had been carrying her for a year and a half. Trips to the bathroom, the dinner table and the bedroom all needed an extra set of hands after a bad fall stopped the 7-year-old girl from the Dominican Republic in her tracks. Surgeries to repair the damage to her hip in her home country did not work. Alexa was missing out on being a kid.

Bradley Reeves, M.D., an orthopedic surgeon at Sanford Health, met Alexa and her family on a mission trip to the Dominican Republic earlier this year. Dr. Reeves arranged for Alexa, her mom and her cousin to travel to Sioux Falls, South Dakota, to get her back on her feet. Alexa’s mother left her children and family home in the Dominican Republic for more than six weeks to seek this life-changing treatment for her daughter.

After two weeks of intense physical therapy at Sanford Health with Grant Boltjes, Alexa took her first steps in 18 months. She is now walking with some help from braces and learning to ride a bicycle again. But more importantly, Alexa is learning how to be a kid again.

Alexa’s mom gets emotional while talking about how incredibly grateful she is for the time that Boltjes has spent with her daughter to help her walk again. “He’s so kind, and she asked this morning, ‘Is Grant going to be there?'” said Paloma Sobella Mendez Rubio.

Alexa’s trip to the United States didn’t only include trips to physical therapy. Dr. Reeves and his family also planned trips for Alexa and her family to attend the Sioux Empire Fair and travel to the Black Hills.

Alexa and her family were recently featured in two stories on “HealthBeat” and “Positively Keloland” on KELO-TV.