Today was another busy day of dealing with insurance issues, doing lots of therapy, and making the best of being in the hospital. Abby had two sessions of art therapy, which rank right up there as a close second to music therapy, so she was thrilled! She also had a tough session of PT, where our therapist did lots of stretching and exercises to strengthen weak muscles. Abby loves to exercise about as much as I do, so this session included lots of crying and fussing!
She is getting used to the brace, but if I make a comment like that, she makes it quite clear that she hates it. :). She's allowed. I would too! At least she isn't fighting me anymore when I put it on her.
When we are on our own, I try to incorporate therapy into our activities as much as possible. She opened a present of bubbles today and was excited, so I got her in a tall kneel by the bed and had her blow bubbles. We alternated arms stretched up high to dip the bubble wand in the container while only using one hand on the bed. It was great therapy for a lot of reasons:
1. A tall kneel works on balance and core strength. Her stomach muscles have to work hard to keep her upright--especially with the extra weight of the brace. It would have been better if her knees had been together, but she needs the wide base right now.
2. Reaching her arms requires her to use both arms and stretch them. The muscles in her back that she uses to reach up high are affected by the surgery, so this is tough. She doesn't like to do it unless there's something in it for her! :)
3. Bubbles are a great oral motor exercise! It practices lip rounding, which is important for speech and for using a straw. It also focuses on breath support and deep breathing, which is important for her lungs. In fact, we often use bubbles post-op when she is having trouble getting deep breaths! Believe it or not, blowing bubbles is still pretty hard for Abby. Her lungs make it tough for her to fill up with air and blow out slowly, so bubbles are great practice for her! She gets very excited when she is able to blow a stream of bubbles!
Best of all, she got all of this great work in while having fun and not even realizing she was working so hard! I love when that happens!!
When we are walking, her PT and I have found it works really well to give her one skill to focus on at a time. Right now, there's too much to work on to expect her to take each step perfectly, and she gets frustrated easily. Each room entryway is painted a different color, so I will say something like "focus on keeping your body straight with your head up high until we get to the blue room." The other skills we are currently working on with walking are to keep her right foot straight and pointed to the front, to stay on flat feet instead of walking on tiptoes, to walk heel-to-toe, rather than toe-to-heel, and to walk without keeping her knees bent the entire time (getting the extension to a straight leg with each step.). That last one has proven to be the hardest, and each step is very slow and deliberate. You can see the face on concentration on her when she is focusing on getting extension in her leg. Naturally, that skill requires the most motivation and I usually save it for the last leg of our trip so that she can rest afterwards! She still requires a walker, but it is allowing us to focus on some of these other skills without her having to worry about her balance on top of everything else.
We are moving to rehab tomorrow (today!) morning and are excited and nervous to begin this new adventure. This is an intensive program and I know it's going to be tough on her. Motivating verses and quotes that I can use to decorate her room and encourage her would be appreciated! It's going to take a lot of hard work on her part to get back to her baseline, and she has to want it. Right now, I'm not sure she understands why she has to work so hard. But she does know that she wants to go home and get back to school, so I use that as her goal.