We packed up our little home in Roanoke late Friday evening, piled into the car on Saturday, and made the trek back to Nashville. We’re home. It’s taken me two full days to decompress from the last leg of our trip – the should-be 6 hour but really 8 hour drive – and get my bearings now that we’re back in Tennessee. If it ever looks or sounds like it’s easy for us to make these trips, then I do a good job of masking it. It’s not. We’re exhausted and insanely excited to be back home in our own space. It’s always hard to get out of our normal routine: setting up our lives in a temporary home is always a struggle, as is the long car drive (and in many cases, plane ride) to and from these locations.
But, fatigue aside, this 4 week intensive therapy was 100% worth it. And the last week was particularly eye-opening.
Monday was a typical day. Solly worked with his OT for a full 6 hours, focusing on pretty much the same things they’d focused on for the previous 3 weeks. Then, at 1:55pm, his cast was removed. For good. Solly couldn’t stop stretching out his left arm, wriggling his fingers, and staring at his hand. It felt amazing to get that sucker off!
So amazing, in fact, that he couldn’t calm down afterwards.
I popped him into a bath because his arm had gotten quite stinky after being casted for 3 weeks, and then snuggled him up into his bed for a nap. The second I closed his bedroom door, he started cheering: “Yeah! Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!”
This continued for 45 minutes. I decided that he might need to get some energy out, so I pulled him out of bed, put him in the jogging stroller, and took him for a run along the Roanoke River Greenway so he could say “hi” to other folks out enjoying the weather.
The rest of the week was focused on bilateral therapy: using both hands together. Now, I won’t lie, I was super nervous for Solly’s cast to be removed. I was so happy with all the progress he made with his right arm and hand up until this point that I feared he’d forget all about his right side once the cast came off. I’m happy to report that wasn’t the case. Where I thought he’d maybe balance himself by placing his right hand on the ground, he instead uses his left hand to balance himself so he can play with toys using his right hand. He’s making choices by pointing with his right hand, and even though he still eats with his left hand, he’s using his right hand to wipe his mouth and rub his eyes and more. This progress is amazing.
At the end of the week, we got a home therapy plan with clear instructions for activities we can do at home to continue Solly’s progress.
In sum, here are all the gains Solly made over the four week time period:
- Improvement in trunk stability
- Increased awareness of his right arm and hand
- Increased confidence and desire to use his right hand
- Improvement in ability to crawl
- Improvement in ability to sit up from right side
- Increased stabilization while sitting upright through engaging a toy with one hand while other hand holds self up
- Successful reach with right hand
- Increased shoulder strength
- Emergence of a right hand grasp (open and release of fingers)
- Increased stability and strength of his wrist during grasp
- Ability to hold a fork and take food to his mouth with right hand
- Increased language skills “more, all done, yes, help, eat, hooray, yay, again”
- Increased attention span
- Increased frustration tolerance
- Emergence of sucking through a straw
And here is what we’ll be focusing on – in therapy and at home – moving forward:
- Functional transitions (Laying down to sitting, transitioning from both sides, and four point crawling)
- Trunk strength
- Strength and stability of right shoulder through weight bearing and reaching
- Whole hand grasp through very motivating and success oriented objects/toys
- Use of the right hand and left hand together
Are you surprised that we already have more therapy on the schedule? Next, we’re heading back to Los Angeles right after Thanksgiving for a week-long intensive at the NAPA Center. While we’re there, we’ll also head up to Pasadena for another round of stem cells with Dr. Shieh.
Get Caught Up
- Virginia Intensive, Week 1
- Virginia Intensive, Week 2
- Virginia Intensive, Week 3
- General information on the Virginia Tech CRI Neuromotor Research Clinic
- Our first intensive at NAPA Center
- Our first experience with stem cells