After a nearly three-week stay at UC Davis Children’s Hospital, Erika and Eva Sandoval have returned to their Antelope home.
The 2 ½-year-old sisters, who were born conjoined twins, were transferred to UC Davis Children’s Hospital in Sacramento from Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford on March 10 for inpatient pediatric rehabilitation services.
The team from the UC Davis Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation designed a comprehensive rehabilitation program to meet the unique needs of the twins, who were conjoined from the chest down and were separated last December. The pair received three hours each day of physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy, six days a week.
“It was what they needed,” said Aida Sandoval, the twins’ mother. “It was a lot for them to do each day, but it kept them busy and challenged.”
One of their challenges was learning how to eat and swallow. It was a skill that they hadn’t formerly learned since they have been on a nasogastric tube since birth. Speech therapy, which was scheduled around breakfast and lunch times, provided the help that they needed.
“We made it fun for them. When I started, they didn’t like to get their hands dirty. They didn’t want to sit at the table to eat. Now they love dipping cereal puffs in jam. They are tasting maple syrup with their hands. There’s a lot of dipping and tasting,” said speech therapist Michelle Ramirez. “They’ve come a long way in a short time."
Some of their favorite foods? Jell-o, strawberry jam and peaches!
The sisters very much enjoy each other’s company, but staff have also seen the pair blossom, as they develop their own individual identities and the ability to be separated for therapy and trips to the play room.
“Erika and Eva continue to thrive on the rehabilitation service as they gain independence and continue to get stronger,” said Loren Davidson, chief of the division of pediatric rehabilitation at UC Davis Children’s Hospital. “They enjoy therapies and are extremely social and verbal. We are very pleased with Erika and Eva's progress with feeding and mobility and enjoy watching them explore, learn and play as any other two year old would.”