DETROIT--()--A very special young woman will be on the red carpet at the North American International Auto Show Charity Preview this Friday evening. Nine-year-old Melissa Eger and her family are ambassadors for The Detroit Institute for Children (DIC), on behalf of the hundreds of children who come to the DIC for rehabilitative, physical, occupational and speech therapy each year.
Melissa has been a patient of the DIC since 2009. Her parents, Roger and Lory Eger, brought her to the Detroit area from Haiti when she was five. Melissa was born with Arthrogryposis, which is abnormal shortening and rigidity of her leg muscle and joints along with severe muscle weakness. When she first came to the Eger’s, the plan was for her to just stay for a year for surgery and then to return to Haiti. But their plans quickly changed when they learned that lifetime physical therapy was just as critical as surgery in improving Melissa’s mobility and development.
Due to her significant joint damage and muscle weakness, Melissa attends physical therapy on at least a weekly basis. When she first joined came to the DIC, she started with no muscle strength at all and couldn’t even stand up with her braces. She is now able to walk on her own with canes and leg braces. Her next goal is to be able to move to shorter braces (below the knee) which will make it much easier for her to navigate over uneven ground, go up and down stairs, etc.
The DIC is dedicated to the care of children with a variety of conditions, such as cerebral palsy, neuromuscular diseases, developmental delays, autism spectrum disorders, genetic syndromes, spinal cord injury, and brain injury. With medical and therapy costs easily adding up to $100,000s every year per patient, the DIC provides hundreds of families in southeast Michigan with physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, sensory integration therapy, and autism services.
On average, the DIC receives reimbursement from Medicaid sponsored insurance plans of only 38% of the actual service cost. In some cases, needed treatments are not reimbursed by any coverage at all. On an annual basis, the DIC subsidizes about $1,300,000 of uncompensated care through contributions and support of organizations and events like the Charity Preview.
Melissa’s progress is directly related to the love and determination of her family and the therapists at the DIC. Lory notes, “The DIC is really part of our family. When we come in the door, everyone knows us and is there to support us. They constantly find new ways to help Melissa make continuing progress. Melissa loves her therapists and looks forward to coming, which is critical to her success. I can’t imagine her life without the DIC.”
Along with the DIC, other charities benefiting from the Charity Preview include Boys & Girls Clubs of Southeastern Michigan, Boys Hope Girls Hope Detroit, The Children's Center, The Children's Hospital of Michigan Foundation, Detroit Auto Dealers Association Charitable Foundation Fund, Judson Center, March of Dimes and Think Detroit PAL.
Since 1920, The DIC has been the leader in innovative treatment for special needs children throughout Southeast Michigan. The DIC provides outpatient and in-school medical and rehabilitative care through multiple locations to special needs children through a variety of exceptional speech, occupational and physical therapies. The DIC’s mission is to care for children with physical or developmental disabilities, For additional information about the DIC, visit www.detroitchildren.org.