The word miracle is often used to describe an unlikely event. When doctors met Mia Bryant as an infant, they said a long life lived would be unlikely.
But Mia is more than a miracle. She is a life lived, survived, and filled with hope.
"She's a wonderful, happy child," said Mia's grandpa Milt. "Just happy. I don't know another word I could put in there."
Seven years ago, Mia's life was forever changed. They learned she had subdural hematoma, typically associated with traumatic brain injury. It resulted in a series of developmental delays for Mia.
"We were told she would never roll over in bed," Milt said. "We were told she would never walk, we were told she would be a vegetable."
But intensive therapy is helping Mia live a better life than the outlook doctors once gave her.
"It's every Tuesday," Milt said. "It's kind of like a date day for her and I."
Grandpa Milt and Mia's date day takes them to the stables. It's called Hippotherapy, derived from the Greek word, "hippos," meaning horse. It's Mia's equestrian escape.
The heat of the horse stretches her muscles, lifts her mood, and relaxes her body. For an hour every week, the horse offers Mia a consistent, rhythmic movement. It's improving her mobility, strength, posture and endurance.
"When we first put her on the horse, she couldn't even sit up straight," Milt said. "Couldn't even stand up."
At the age of two, the Carlton, MI native Mia began Hippotherapy, and her progression continues to exceed all expectations.
The power of the horse goes beyond Hippotherapy. Its effects are carrying over.
"In addition, there's speech therapy, physical therapy, and there's aqua therapy. We do all four," Milt explained.
Mia is making waves through the use of various water exercises, all while Grandpa Milt smiles and encourages. The pool is her place to sing, swim, kick and play.
On dry land, Mia is incorporating everything she's learned, and bringing it to life at Mercy Children's Hospital.
And her success is just as much physical as it is psychological.
"If we show negativity, the child shows negativity…Just that little bit of encouragement might be the difference between that child taking a step or not."
Grandpa Milt and granddaughter Mia are each other's biggest supporters.
"I always say, ‘How come I always get stuck with you?' She says, ‘Lucky!' That's my encouragement…My goal is to make her the best she can be."
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