Devon Stoyka

Image: Devon Stoyka


On February 16, 1987, my parents’ world was turned upside down. My mother went into labour 12 weeks early, and neither she nor I were prepared for my arrival.

After a caesarean section, all two pounds of me were removed from her womb. I was clinically dead, but I pulled through. Constant medical attention, a trip to intensive care, and a few prayers kept me alive.
But I was deprived of oxygen because of a simple mistake. That mistake cost me the use of my legs and left me with a static brain injury called CP or cerebral palsy, two simple words with an irreparable result. CP may just seem like letters to you, but for me they hold a meaning that I hate with a passion.
When I was young, I had no idea how important my disability was to other people. They were very nice to me, and gave me a computer and a metal frame that was to be my new body. I didn’t have to sit up straight; a piece of foam became my back.

To make the package sweeter, I was strapped into my seat. Contentment was all that mattered. I didn’t know then that what these nice people were doing didn’t fit my needs. I didn’t know that the plastic braces they put on my feet were not the only solution.
My first grade teacher was an open-minded woman who was also the mother of a disabled child. She believed in something more and introduced me to a therapy called Conductive Education®.  CE would change my life—that first session introduced me to the power that my mind could hold.
I’d never seen a classroom like that before, one with ladders on the wall and wooden tables with slats for us to lie on. My teachers were not there to teach me the alphabet; they were there to introduce me to my feet.
My plastic braces were removed and the metal frame on which I’d grown so dependent was discarded. In a single moment, I was introduced to my body and a million barriers began to come down. Finally, I understood what it might feel like to be you.
Conductive Education® is a program that uses vocal repetition and active learning to awaken dormant muscle. Also, it focuses on speech impairments and learning disabilities as a result of brain injuries.

It triggers the brain through the use of vocal prompts to learn how to succeed in physical and mental development. For example, I had a very weak understanding of left and right. In order to get the concept across, the conductor had to repeat “left and right” while touching the corresponding side of my body.
I went into CE unable to balance or stand without a large amount of support. I certainly couldn’t walk. I can proudly say that after just a few years in this program, I am walking using my own strength!
I walk with a cane, but I can do it, which is kind of funny considering I was told I would never be able to. Through CE, I now understand that the ability to walk is all in the mind. Anything is possible if you put your mind to it. I have a determination within me that I had never known before.
I want to show how I have changed because of this therapy. I want to raise awareness of this alternate solution to plastic braces and metal frames. CE may not be the treatment for everyone and I respect that. However, it sure has helped me and it will go on helping me so long as I choose. I will no longer be disabled.
Thanks to CE I have new confidence, optimism and determination that would never have been mine.
Thank you so much!
Devon Stoyka​

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