ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — When Harper’s doctor friend Michelle starts singing those famous “doo doo doos,” the 2-year-old in pigtails knows it is time to get to work.
Harper was born with severe spina bifida. The condition not only hinders her ability to walk, but also limits much movement.
There were no guarantees.
Harper would have to work for it.
Surgeries and endless visits to the hospital left the little girl guarded, cautious and scared.
Dr. Michelle Schultz knew she had a challenge ahead when she started Harper’s pediatric rehabilitation at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg.
“That was a big barrier we really had to cross at first, to regain her trust,” says Dr. Schultz.
Cue up “Baby Shark,” the earwormy children’s song that has over 2.6 billion views on YouTube.
With Harper on a tiny treadmill in a rehab room and Schultz by her side, they start walking and singing: “Baby shark, doo doo doo doo doo doo.”
The doctor believes improvisation and outside-the-box thinking is key during rehabilitation since every child responds differently.
“I like the tune of that song,” says Dr. Schultz. “I use it like a metronome. I want her to walk to that beat. Doo doo doo! Pick up her speed, walk faster.”
More than that, the song also makes Harper flash her starpower smile.
With the confidence of walking and smiling, she started talking more, too.
“It helped her regain her abilities,” says Schultz, who also “grocery shops” with Harper to get her using other motor skills beyond standing and walking.
Harper now loves to tumble and play with older brother Kellen.
She is a constant source of amazement and inspiration to her parents, Fred and Erica Comparin.
“When I first saw her taking 5,6,7 steps across the room, I was like ‘Are you serious?’” says Fred. “She’ll now just walk up to total strangers and just say, ‘Hi!’”