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Siblings treated at West Texas Rehab Center

Riggan Smith, 3, is being treated for spine bifida at the West Texas Rehab Center. (Source KSWO) Riggan Smith, 3, is being treated for spine bifida at the West Texas Rehab Center. (Source KSWO)

ABILENE, TX (KSWO) -Each week, families take their children to the West Texas Rehab Center in Abilene to receive therapy in hopes their child will leave a little stronger than they came.

The center offers a variety of comprehensive therapy that includes speech, occupational and physical.

Three-year-old Riggan Smith was born with spina bifida, although you can't tell by the way he's actively playing around. Last year, he was unable to stand, let alone walk. His mom, Jodi Smith, says there was one point in her pregnancy where doctors told her to hope for the best, but be prepared for the worst and that “he would more than likely be paralyzed from the waist down, that he wouldn't have feeling and that he would probably more than likely be in a wheelchair."

Jodi says doctors told her many women in her shoes often choose not to go along with the pregnancy.

"End the pregnancy if you weren't going to be able to deal with those circumstances. And that was kind of what they kind of pushed us toward. It was something really hard to try to figure out what would be the best for our little boy, but we always said no one has ever given up on us, so we weren't going to give up on him," Smith said.

Riggan’s dad, Justin Smith, says thinking of that time in their life brings him to tears.

"It just floored me that so many people out there do that without giving them a chance," Justin Smith said.

They made it their mission to do whatever they could to give their child a shot at a normal life. But finding treatment wasn't always easy. They began with an in-home service provided by another treatment center.

"It was very discouraging when they came. They weren’t all about him and treating him, and they would get very frustrated because he would get upset and he didn't want to cooperate. They just told me they couldn't help me," Jodi Smith said.

That's when the Smiths were referred to the West Texas Rehab Center. Jodi and Justin Smith say Riggan’s progress has been remarkable to watch.

"He would pull up then we started with a walker, he had a walker for just a few short months than he just took off,” Jodi Smith said.

“It's pretty neat because there was a long time when I didn't know what was going to happen," Justin Smith said.

Megan Cheek, Riggan’s physical therapist, says she takes time to find out what interests Riggan so she can build her therapy around that.

"One of our goals is running with a better patter and running without tripping. So, one of his favorite games is baseball. We can get running in by playing baseball in the gym. He loves to play in the ball pit, that's another great way to use strengthening,” Cheek explained.

Jodi says it’s not just about the treatment, it’s about how the center goes above and beyond for her family.

"They've all been very, very helpful, and anything they can help us do, any medical equipment they can help us get. Helping us in any way, they are more than willing. And my kids think of them as family,” Jodi Smith said.

“It just goes to show you what Megan and the West Texas Rehab does up here. They've done wonders for him,” Justin Smith said.

Cheek say she believes as Riggan gets older, he will no longer need therapy, and will be able continue to live a normal active boy's life.

Wednesday, you’ll hear more from the Smith family because Riggan's little brother, who has spina bifida as well, is also being treated at the West Texas Rehab Center. 

Spina bifida is not genetic disorder, in fact doctors told the Smiths they would have a better chance of hitting the lotto than to have two kids with the same disability. 

The West Texas Rehab Center telethon airs Saturday night, Jan. 16, from 7 p.m. to midnight. The headliner for the event is Sawyer Brown and the telethon is hosted by Charlie Chase.

There is also an online auction you can go to all this week, with various high-quality items. Bidding ends Saturday, Jan. 16, at midnight at rehabauction.org.

Copyright 2016 KSWO. All rights reserved.

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