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Harley's Story

Harley Alvaro has been in and out of St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children since he was only a month old. Harley needs to be seen by not one, but three pediatric experts for his conditions- Christina DiMichele, Physical Therapy, Megan Gresh, MD, Orthopedic Center for Children and a Neurosurgery specialist.  

It began when Deiyanira experienced complications in the last few weeks of her pregnancy. She and her husband discovered before Harley’s birth that they would need to take their newborn son to an orthopedic specialist. Harley failed to move into the proper delivery position. When this fails to happen, it is referred to as breech presentation, causing Harley’s feet to be delivered first.

The family remained positive, but soon found out after Harley’s birth that he had positional plagiocephaly, also referred to as flat head syndrome and torticollis, also referred to as wryneck. The Alvaro’s prepared for weekly trips to the hospital.  

“Our family has felt overwhelmed at times because all of Harley’s appointments,” explained Deiyanira, who also has a four-year-old daughter, Riley Alvaro. “We worry about our son and his ability to develop properly, but have truly found a second family at St. Christopher’s. We trust the team at St. Christopher’s that takes care of our son.”

“I’ve followed Harley since he was only seven weeks old for bilateral hip dysplasia and torticollis, both likely due to intrauterine positioning,” explains Megan Gresh, MD, Orthopedic Center for Children. “Harley has a lovely family that is very involved in his care. I have seen him every couple of months since May 2016 and he continues to improve each visit.”

Harley’s doctors believe torticollis, or wryneck could be related to him being in a breeched presentation during Deiyanira’s pregnancy. It has been upsetting for Deiyanira to see her second child uncomfortable due to this condition, but his progress has been outstanding. Since he began physical therapy at St. Christopher’s, his weekly appointments have now turned to bi-weekly.


“I had the pleasure of meeting the Alvaro family when Harley was 1 month old. Watching him grow and meet his Physical Therapy goals has been an absolute joy,” says Christina DiMichele, Physical Therapist at St. Christopher’s. “Harley’s exceptional parents and big sister have played a pivotal role in his progress by dedicating their time to an extensive home program and attending every one of his physical therapy sessions. Harley is now meeting his gross motor milestones as well as showing improvements in his neck flexibility and head shape.”

Harley visits St. Christopher’s department of Neurosurgery for plagiocephaly, or flat head syndrome. A small percentage of infants can develop a flat spot on their head due to pressure on that area. Harley’s brain development has been closely followed during his first few months of life to ensure it is growing normally.

“We know that our son will be a happy and healthy child,” explained Deiyanira. “We’re beyond grateful for all the individuals at St. Christopher’s that work with our son, who will turn one year old in a few short months. We hope to stay close with his doctors and therapists for years to come.”

The Alvaro’s encourage their children to be active and healthy. Their daughter Riley, 4, is involved in soccer and gymnastics. Deiyanira and her husband describe their family as sporty, and two of their favorite activities include cheering on the Philadelphia Flyers and watching Sunday night football together.


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