Spina bifida is a rare condition that causes a baby's spinal cord to fail to develop properly

By Jason Duaine Hahn
May 03, 2019 04:00 PM

While parents across the country are likely burnt out from the hit song by now, “Baby Shark” has played a crucial part in one little girl’s goal of learning how to walk.

Two-year-old Harper Comparin has spina bifida, a rare condition that caused her spinal cord to fail to develop properly, making walking and movement difficult. While there is no cure for spina bifida, there are treatments that can help, and Harper has undergone multiple surgeries and trips to the hospital, according to ABC News. But the hospital stays have become a nerve-wracking experience for the young girl, and have caused her to lose trust in the doctors who treated her, the news station reported.

That’s when Dr. Michelle Schultz of Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg, Florida, began brainstorming a way to regain Harper’s faith in her doctors.

“That was a big barrier we really had to cross at first, to regain her trust,” said Schultz, who is treating Harper at the hospital’s pediatric rehabilitation program.

Schultz then came up with an idea — why not use the hit children’s song, “Baby Shark,” as a way to bring fun to Harper’s therapy sessions?

“I like the tune of that song,” Schultz explained to ABC of playing the song while Harper practiced walking on a small treadmill. “I use it like a metronome. I want her to walk to that beat. Doo doo doo! Pick up her speed, walk faster.”

Credit: ABC Action News

The song shot up the charts late last year thanks to a music video that sees a little boy and girl singing and dancing along to its repetitive-sounding lyrics while they tell the story of a family of sharks — a baby, mommy, daddy, grandma and grandpa — who hunt and avoid danger together.

The video was originally uploaded to YouTube in 2016 by an educational brand from South Korea, and currently has more than 2.7 billion views.

After practicing her steps to the beat of the happy tune, Harper soon found trust in her doctors again. As her determination and confidence grew, Harper began to talk more often as well.

RELATED VIDEO: ‘Baby Shark’ Has Officially Hit the Billboard Hot 100 — See Its Surprising Rank

Harper is now able to walk better than ever before, which has delighted her proud parents, Fred and Erica Comparin.

“When I first saw her taking five, six, seven steps across the room, I was like ‘Are you serious?’ ” Fred Comparin, Harper’s father, told the news station. “She’ll now just walk up to total strangers and just say, ‘Hi!’ ”

Around 1,600 babies are born each year with spina bifida, according to the Centers for Disease Control, and infants with the condition usually have more than three hospital stays in their first year of life.

To help in spina bifida research, consider donating to the Spina Bifida Association here.