Thursday, January 12, 2012

Therapy Thursday: Workin' It!

It's been a while since I gave a proper update on Wyatt's progress.  That's not due to anything other than time, or rather, my profound lack of it.  Then there were things like holidays and anniversaries to consider... and, well, I fell into that trap of thinking that there wasn't much to report over all.  However, since the end of November, our little guy has made some strides.

Wyatt is still working on rolling both ways and "pushing up" on his hands.  Like his siblings, he seems to be more intent on discovering his verbal prowess, so it has been a bit of a frustrating couple of months to not see much improvement.  This is typical for Wyatt... plateau, plateau, plateau... and then boom!  Mastery! 

We have been continuing on with his positioning and gentle resistance.  Along the way, we have added a few things of our own that the OT's have approved.  He and his sister have a ton of toys;  some of the more simple ones such as heavier rattles and weighted balls have really helped to develop his eye-hand co-ordination (especially as he moves things from one hand to the other). Toys such as blocks have helped his grasp and a little ingenious configuration of plastic links has helped both his grasp and build his arm strength.  Wyatt likes to grab your pinkie finger in one chubby fist and your thumb in the other and "drive"; with this in mind, Sean put together an inverted Y shaped configuration of plastic links, where he held the single strand and Wy grabbed one side of the V part in each hand.  With that, we would then gently pull on the links and Wyatt would pull back, creating resistance.  We were amazed initially at his determination to pull on the links until we discovered that he was just trying to get them to his mouth to chew.  Amused, we let him have a little nibble now and again, just to reinforce a sense of accomplishment.  Even though pushing himself up has proven to be a bit of a stumbling block, he can quite contentedly rest on his elbows, shift his weight to one side, grasp a toy, chew on it and switch hands and comfortably shift his weight to the other side.

Casually shifting his weight
from one side to the other
so that he can play with his
version of free weights
His pivoting still needs some work, but is coming along.  He still prefers to roll to the one side, but we are encouraging him (with rolling exercises) to go the other way as well.  He can do both, he just prefers not to.  I personally don't have a full grasp of his rolling capabilities as I seem to always miss most of it. I sit and wait for him to do it, I get distracted and poof!  He is across the floor.  For all I know, he can teleport.

We are working with him, to some extent, every day.  Even if it is only a few minutes here and there in between the rest of the functioning of my crazy-busy family.  Mornings after breakfast seem to be the best time for him as he is alert and energetic (somewhere around 10:30 and 11, after cleanup and getting dressed).  He has a good hour or so of floor time which, in itself, helps him develop and grow, but we throw in a few exercises just to help him along.  Our workers (there are two of them currently, our regular worker and her student) are also OT's and they have begun visiting us twice a month to follow his overall progress.  Usually it is monthly visits, however we are getting double service because we have twins and a student available to us.  Either way, the time between visits allows progress to be assessed a little better as it is more noticeable.

Initially, we started with blanket or towel rolls.  Being a nurse, I'm an old hand at blanket rolls and can prop/secure/restrain anything with a blanket, anytime, anywhere.  We would use them to prop under his chest to help him raise up, we would put one on either side of his hips to keep his legs straight and not "frogged" (he likes to rub his feet together when he is lying on his tummy), we would use them to sit him more upright in his high chair.  We still use them for the latter, actually, especially if lunch is after a long exercise session and he is a little droopy.  Then, along came an object that we affectionately refer to as "The Speed Bump", which is a vinyl bar that, well, looks like a speed bump.  It can be used for a variety of things, up to and including propping him up on his hands and helping him sit.  He's not really a fan of the Speed Bump, and after a short time will tire of it.  I finally saw him pivot for the first time one day as he decided that he had enough time of the Speed Bump being under his chest and arms, pushed himself carefully down and to the side.  He then put his head down and promptly had a nap.

Wyatt working on his core
One of the more welcome additions to his routine in the last couple of months has been "The Bean".  Exercise balls are routinely used for developing balance and core strength;  kids with hypotonia are no exception.  We tried a few shapes and sizes out with Wyatt and found that an oval shaped "ball" with a slight depression in the middle was what worked best for him.  With "The Bean", we can work on his core strength and balance just by having fun with him.  For example, laying him on top of the ball and holding his feet and rolling it forward (while saying "Wheeee!" of course), he automatically pushes himself up and utilizes his head, shoulder, back and arm muscles to steady himself.  We also sit him on the Bean and holding his waist, bounce him up and down (he LOVES this).  I will say that once the ball/Bean was introduced, he did have an exponential jump in his balance. Within a two week period, he went from a floppy, bean bag baby that would nestle into your shoulder to a stiffer baby that would hold himself away from you when held him. 

Also in our regimen is a safety mirror which adds more fun and discovery to our exercises.  We like to put it on the floor and when he is getting tired on the Bean, it gives him something new to discover.  Since the introduction of the mirror, he will now try to put his hands flat on the floor (mirror) as he rolls forward.  We also use it across his lap when he is sitting to provide a little more interest into his grasping and banging of objects (and distract him from the idea that he is sitting). He loves to look at himself in the mirror, always has.  Our counter in the bathroom where he gets his bath has a huge mirror behind it; he watches us in the mirror and as "the other baby" have his tubby.  It wasn't a big stretch then, to incorporate it into our play and therapy sessions.

It may seem like a lot of work, having daily exercise sessions, but it really isn't.  Unlike traditional physiotherapy, we don't have pack up and lug him off to yet another appointment that he may not be receptive to, depending on the time of day.  Instead, we do it at home on his schedule and our therapists come to us.  This is important as we have a kindergartener who goes half days and Wyatt's twin Zoe who is hell bent on making what is left of my hair, grey.  We also make things fun.  Therapy isn't therapy, it's playtime and often all three kids are involved.  My eldest especially, as he keeps a critical eye on us to make sure that we are doing things right to help Wyatt with what he refers to as his "floppy-gitis".  Quinn came up with this term all on his own one day;  he was sitting beside me as I manipulated Wyatt into another position and he asked me what was wrong with him.  (We had already had quite a few) talks about DS.)  Being the Mom that I am, I answered "what do you think is wrong with Wyatt?" After a pause, Quinn looked at me and answered "I think he has floppy-gitis".  Not surprisingly, it stuck (and it was all I could do to keep from laughing).  At Christmas, my brother visited and I encouraged Quinn to tell his Uncle "what was wrong with Wyatt" as I thought that Bro might get a kick out of his nephew's clever terminology.  My whole plan backfired on me however (and demonstrated what a brilliant advocate he will be one day), as my son gave me a very long look and leveled his gaze on his uncle to report--in the most patient voice ever--"Uncle Bill, Wyatt has Down Syndrome". 

I had to leave the room. 

Like anything else, we've made Wyatt's therapy an adventure, one that we can all take part in.  Making it fun only serves to ensure that we participate as often as we can and that he grows up appreciating at least some forms of exercise.  It is frustrating at times and the results are slow at best.  But, the results are there.  They are visible in his thicker legs and stronger, steadier upper body, they are palpable in the muscles of his back as we pick him up.  Although I never seem to be able to watch him roll and pivot about the floor, he is doing it and managing to turn himself around (in fact, he will do this in his crib and I will find him stuck with his feet out through the bars).  As his arms grow stronger, as his back and legs develop more, the closer he is to crawling and walking.  We will get there eventually.  It will take time, but we will get there... One Bean-y bounce at a time.


Thank you for your comment.

Although discussion is encouraged, disrespectful or hurtful dialogue will be removed.

Spam will be fried up with a side of tomatoes.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...