Elf on the Shelf Joins Good Shepherd Therapy Team

Of all the do’s and don’ts at the Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Hospital Pediatric Unit, one of the most important is: Don’t touch the elves. Because if you do, explains Michele Shara, recreational therapist, “They lose all their magic.”

The elves, two small dolls in Christmas elf attire, are the newest members of the pediatric therapy team. They’re from the book, The Elf on the Shelf: A Christmas Tradition, by Carol Aebersold and are being used as part of daily rehabilitation for the children who are in the unit this holiday season.

In keeping with the story’s narrative, the elves – named Victor and Victoria by children on the unit – watch over the children during the day and report to Santa on behavior both good and bad. Every morning, the elves pop up some place different on the unit and the children have to hunt for them. This activity not only encourages good behavior, it also engages children physically and mentally as they move around, scanning the area and being challenged to find objects in visually complex settings. For some children, this means learning to maneuver their wheelchair, while for others it means taking a few shaky steps.

Bryce Delpais of Brockton is among the children who delight in looking for the elves. The 27-month-old toddler is recovering from a stroke suffered as the result of a brain injury sustained in an all-terrain vehicle accident in August.

When the accident occurred, Bryce’s dad, Kyle, had returned a few months earlier from serving in the U.S. Army in Afghanistan where he narrowly escaped with his life after the armored vehicle he was riding in was hit by a roadside bomb, killing three of his best friends. Father and son were out on the trails when they stopped to look at a deer, Kyle explains. Bryce pressed the throttle on the vehicle causing it to leap forward and roll over, injuring Bryce. He was rushed to the hospital where he was in a coma for five weeks and had a portion of his skull removed until the swelling in his brain reduced.

“They told us he’d probably be blind,” says Kyle. “They just couldn’t promise anything.”

Bryce was then transferred to The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. But when Kyle and Heather Elo, Bryce’s mother, found out about Good Shepherd’s pediatric unit, they had Bryce brought here, closer to home.

Now Bryce is toddling about, eating, playing and bringing immense joy to everyone who meets this engaging little boy. “Everybody here is so impressed with him,” says Kyle. “He’s come a long way.”

And the elves just may have had something to do with that.


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