Davison Chapman, 3, gripped his walker tight and stomped his tiny feet in time to 'We are the dinosaurs,' a children's song by the Laurie Berkner band. He and his mother, Blake Chapman, were singing one of his favorite tunes on a sunny Tuesday afternoon on the playground of Trinity United Methodist Church in Richmond's west end.
'He loves to stand in his walker and sing and dance along,' said his father, Keith Chapman, director of clinical engineering at MCV Hospitals in Richmond. Chapman smiled broadly as he watched his son clap at the end of the song.
Davison was born with a heart condition that won't allow him to run, jump and play like other three-year-olds, but his desire level is definitely 100%. A half hour before Davison and 15 other toddlers were set to graduate from the Greater Richmond ARC's Infant and Child Development Services program, he and his friends appeared to be doing what every other child on the playground was doing that day: having a ball.
However, Davison's behavior these days contrasts sharply with the time immediately following his birth.
'After he was born, he was so weak he couldn't even tuck his legs in,' said Chapman. 'His functionality was so poor.'
As the result of his heart condition' his heart pumps at only about 50% capacity' Davison's arms would suddenly go limp and he'd be completely drained of energy. Davison is an only child, and his parents faced overwhelming challenges in the days, months and years following his birth. Almost immediately, a heart surgery was performed on Davison that was followed by another six months later. After the second surgery, the Chapmans began to see improvement, but they were told he'd probably need a third surgery when he turned three. They have since opted to wait for a heart transplant, which they are hopeful will be performed sometime around Davison's tenth birthday.
When Davison was still an infant, the Chapmans were referred to the Greater Richmond ARC's Infant and Child Development Services program for therapy services. After a thorough assessment of his condition, ARC's therapists began administering occupational and physical therapy to Davison for one hour every week. Chapman said that when ARC physical therapist Anne Wilkins began her work with Davison, 'he couldn't even roll over or sit up.' Together with Kim Alford, an ARC occupational therapist, Wilkins administered a regimen that was designed to build Davison's strength and stamina. The therapists even prescribed 'homework' for his parents.
'They told us as often as we could, we needed to help Davison tuck his legs in,' said Chapman. Over time, his parents gained confidence in working with their young son who has, according to Chapman, made 'massive progress' by working with the therapists at the Greater Richmond ARC.
Davison is currently enrolled in a day care program at the Jewish Community Center three days a week and will continue to work with ARC. The safe, nurturing environment provided by Davison's parents and the JCC, combined with the physical and occupational therapy ARC provides, will ensure that this happy little fellow will be able to stomp like a dinosaur any time he pleases.