Toddler recovers at West Texas Rehab Center

Abilene_Some patients at the West Texas Rehab Center in Abilene are not even old enough to talk.  Gabriel Samora celebrated his first birthday last Sunday, and has spent more than half of his first year of life in rehab.  His mother noticed he wasn't developing as he should, and it was discovered that the right side of the child's body was paralyzed.  The muscles from his neck to his arm, and down to his feet made him almost immobile.  "I was scared," said his mother, Crystal.  "I didn't know what was wrong.  He was only five months old."

Gabriel visits the center for two hours of therapy each week.  "Some days he does really good, and some days he can be really fussy," said Crystal.  The toddler's therapist says he has made great improvement.  "He couldn't sit up when he first started coming, so now he's sitting up on his own," said Physical Therapist Jodi Thomas.  "He's starting to roll, we're starting to work on crawling, he doesn't really like being on his hands and knees a whole lot, but we're getting there."

Gabriel's therapy sometimes appears to be painful, but his mother sees her son doing things she never thought he would be able to do.  "He tries," she said.  "He does try to move his arm.  Before he wasn't doing anything, but they've worked with him, and he does move it a little bit now."

With continued therapy, his future is promising.  "He'll be able to walk one day," said Thomas.  "He may just always be a little bit behind.  Obviously he's a year-old and not yet walking yet, but he'll get there in his own time.  He'll be able to use that side - maybe not as well as the other side - but I think he's going to be fine.  He'll do great!"

The West Texas Rehab Center will have its annual telethon Saturday, January 17, on your 7News station.  It's the rehab center's primary fundraiser held each year.  Last year they raised more than $1 million.  The fundraiser airs from 7PM until midnight, and 7News will take a break for the 10PM newscast before rejoining the fundraiser.  For more information about the center, visit