Early Intervention

Trent, 3, doesn’t know his therapy is hard work

When Trent Shulman was born, his father’s ring fit around his wrist like a loose bracelet.
He weighed 1 pound, 10 ounces, and he could not see or hear.
Today, the almost-3-year-old Chelmsford boy rides a more-than-half-ton horse at Ironstone Farm in Andover as part of his physical therapy. The therapy helps him understand how to better control his muscles. Trent is learning how to sit up strong in the saddle – and anywhere else his life takes him.
“He loves coming here,” said his mom, Jen. “He didn’t know how to use his core before. Sitting, he doesn’t know how to stabilize his core, so he could fall over.”
“The people here are great. He thinks therapy is great. He doesn’t know it’s hard work,” said his dad Todd.
Trent was born four months early, by way of an emergency C-section. The family says he was diagnosed with the most serious level of brain bleeds, known as an intraparenchymal hemorrhage.
“The survival rate was only 15% at the time of birth, and then he had the brain trauma. They asked us if we wanted to pull the plug about three times,” said Todd.
Like other young riders at Ironstone Farm, Trent has proven that he is a fighter. As a baby and toddler he has undergone brain surgery, two eye surgeries and several MRIs, with his dad in the machine to hold him still.
The physical therapy using a horse at Ironstone is one of several therapies Trent uses to become stronger. Trent is one of more than 400 people who come to Ironstone’s 19-acre farm each week for therapy or therapeutic riding programs.
“He needs a lot of repetition. This is a different type of therapy so it helps reinforce things,” said Todd. “This helps. We need to train his brain to think ‘Hey, if I move my muscles, this will do something.’ We have to train the connections.”

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