Two-year-old Harper Comparin, with spina bifida, is busy moving to Baby Shark while undergoing pediatric rehabilitation at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg, Florida.
The toddler has severe spina bifida, a type of neural tube defect that prevents the spine from forming properly. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in the most severe cases of spina bifida, people can be paralyzed or unable to walk or move their body.
Dr. Michelle Schultz said she knew from the beginning that she had to improvise to help get Harper’s confidence back up after the little girl had undergone several surgeries for her condition. “That was a big barrier we really had to cross at first, to regain her trust,” Schultz told WFTS-TV.
That's when she came up with the idea to use the popular “Baby Shark” song produced by the South Korean children’s educational brand, Pink Fong, and which has garnered over 2 million views on Youtube. The repetitive beat was significant in helping Harper regain her abilities, according to the doctor. While Harper is on a tiny treadmill in a rehab room and with 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.”
The little girl seems to find the song very enjoyable and with the added confidence of walking and smiling, she has started also expanded her vocabulary.
“It helped her regain her abilities,” says Schultz, who also role plays with Harper to encourage her to use other motor skills beyond standing and walking. Harper now really enjoys playing with older brother Kellen. She never ceases to amaze her proud 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!’”