Betty Lou Driver

"Dr. Phelps was the greatest doctor I have ever known. He saw hope in me when no other doctor did."

View full interview to learn more about Betty Lou's wonderful perspective on life and her determination to become a physical therapist.


Betty Lou Driver was one of the first children with cerebral palsy to be treated at the Children's Rehabilitation Institute, predecessor of the Kennedy Krieger Institute. She later became a physical therapist at the Institute and wrote an autobiography, published in 1993, called We Can Win!

Ms. Driver arrived at the Children's Rehabilitation Institute (DRI) in 1937. She was six years old. "My mother told me, 'I want you to stay here with the other children so someday you will be well,'" she recalls.

After spending nine months at the Institute, where she received physical therapy, speech therapy, and learned to read and write, she returned home. She was the first child with a developmental disability to attend public schools in her hometown of Cumberland, Maryland.

After attending James Madison University in Virginia, she trained as a physical therapist at the Medical College of Virginia and returned to CRI as a member of the physical therapy staff in November 1954. "It was one of the happiest times of my life because I had reached my goal," she says.

Ms. Driver worked at the Institute for 32 years. At her retirement party, she announced that she was going to write a book about her life and experiences. She wrote the book to encourage the parents of children with disabilities, she says. "Children today have many more advantages. The doctors know more and the methods may be improved, but the basics haven't changed," she says.

She views the nine months that she spent at CRI in 1937 as the foundation for her future successes. "Dr. Phelps was the greatest doctor I have ever known," she says. "He saw hope in me when no other doctor did. He told my parents, 'give her to me and I promise you she will live a normal life.'"

Visit patientcare.kennedykrieger.org to learn more about the Institute's diagnostic and treatment programs.

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