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Brent and Sabina Furbee could see something was wrong with their son, Emerson, even if the doctors didn’t. They were the kind of signs easily dismissed: falling at music class, struggling to climb a ladder at the playground.

A physical therapist near their home in rural Tennessee said the 3-year-old had flat feet and prescribed ankle braces. “I wish I was kidding,” said Brent.


The Furbees returned three months later, demanding better answers. They sat for 30 minutes in what looked like a converted conference room, cramped and dimly lit, as the woman watched their son climb stairs and explained potential physical therapy options. She saw little wrong. Then Emerson got up off the floor to go home. He casually contorted himself, leaning heavy on his hands and arms to haul himself up, as if his legs weren’t enough.

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