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New York Hospital Using Sailing As Unique Therapy For Disabled And Special Needs Children

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Spending a relaxing day on a sailboat can be great medicine for just about anyone.

But for a special group of kids, there's an even greater benefit.

"I've never been sailing," 10-year-old Alexandria said.

Alexandria is part of a group of patients from the Hospital for Special Surgery, where they're being treated for conditions such as cerebral palsy, autism, and scoliosis.

HSS arranged a first of its kind sailing trip at the adaptive program at the waterfront center in Oyster Bay, after similar, successful patient outings for horseback riding, surfing, and skiing.

HSS sailing
Hospital for Special Surgery's sailing therapy program for young patients. (Credit: CBS2)

"I think these programs give them the opportunity to move their body in a new way and be open to new opportunities," Sabrina Cerciello from HSS said.

Cerciello is a physical therapist in pediatric rehabilitation.

"A lot of these kids don't have as much voluntary control over their muscles and their movement so I think getting on and off the boat sitting on the boat while the waves are rocking, really get their bodies used to different movement patterns is a good challenge for them," Cerciello explained.

Alexandria, who has cerebral palsy, had her most recent surgery in December. Her mom Laura says she's doing great and keeping up with her twin, Maya.

"Physically I don't think she has any boundaries. I think she feels like she can do anything and she really does," the parent said.

Twelve-year-old Edwin Torres Jr., who also has cerebral palsy, and his dad also set sail for this new therapy.

"I just got used to it and I love it," Edwin said.

"When he's walking he loses his balance so it's nice to see him being control in what he was doing," Edwin Sr. added.

Child life specialist Peyton Katz says the program is beneficial for entire families.

"Alexandria can do anything and always willing to try new things and always exceeds at them," Katz declared while celebrating with the 10-year-old.

There were three boats filled with first time sailors and CBS2's Dr. Max Gomez reports everyone made it back to shore happy and in better physical shape than when they set sail.

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