Friday, May 2, 2014

May is Stroke Awareness Month * PT *

May is Stroke Awareness Month, and that includes Pediatric Stoke Awareness also.  So, although I talk about Coraline's diagnosis and progress all the time in the blog, this month I'll have some posts specifically dedicated to Hemiplegia and Stroke facts, awareness, and related things.

If you read back in my blog, you'll read about how we suspected there was a problem, the tests we went through, the diagnosis, etc.  But I haven't talked much about treatment.

Coraline has been in Physical Therapy since she was 7 months old (off and on) and steadily since she was 13 months.  She has therapies 4 times a week - twice a week is PT, and twice a week is "special instruction" which deals with speech therapy and fine motor skills (occupational therapy.)    During the sessions we play and make it fun for her, but we also push her beyond her comfort zone, challenge her balance, and encourage her to do things that aren't easy or always comfortable for her.  And it's hard work for anyone, but especially for a one year old.  But she mostly endures it with a smile.

We work with her on doing two handed activities.  Today she worked on putting "coins" in a piggy bank with both hands.  If you just let her be, she'll pick up the first coin with her "good" (left) hand, then she'll pass it to her "affected" (we don't say "bad") (right) hand as a "holder hand", and she'll go pick up a second item with her good hand.  Then she'll put it in the piggy bank with the good hand, then transfer the second one from affected to the good hand, and put in the second one.  Her PT tries to hold the good hand after she puts the first coin in the bank, to force her to put the second coin in with her affected hand.  Sometimes, she clumsily can/will do it.  Sometimes she'll fuss and pull her hand back - and transfer and do it the way she prefers.  (She can be stubborn.)   We do activities like this with her standing at a bench/table and sometimes put the coins on a table in front of her, and the bank on a table behind her - so she has to grab off one surface, then pivot and change her weight to the other foot, to put it on the other table.  Sometimes we do it on a wobbly surface (like the red "peanut" therapy ball) so she can't lean on it as much and needs to rely more on her own sense of balance.

Today she also got to sit on a teeny tiny ride on tricycle while doing some of her activites.  The PT rolled the trike back and forth and Coraline had to use her core muscles to stay upright and not slide off the seat.  The therapist also stomps her affected foot on the floor to send sensations up the leg and to the brain - to remind her that the leg is there, to increase sensation, and to help rebuild neuro-passageways from the brain to the affected leg.

Sometimes she also gets to sit on the therapy swing, which often she is afraid of.  It's funny, because she loves the swings at the park, but not this one.  I guess because she's unsupported and has to use her core muscles to stay on.  Today she fell off, but luckily it's only 4 inches off the ground and there's a super squishy mat underneath.

The last thing she did at PT today was walk the halls of the school with the "shopping cart".  It's full of weights, so she actually has to PUSH to make it roll, but it also keeps it from going to fast and dragging her down the hall!  We usually use the shopping cart to walk from the PT room to the front door when the session is over.

I'm extremely proud of all the progress Coraline has made and that week after week, she returns to the therapy room and tries her best, even when we're putting her outside her comfort zone.   She's a tough little cookie! 

 I'm extremely glad that we caught her hemiplegia when we did, because her therapies have made a really big difference in her recovery.  According to CHASA's fact sheet, hand preference before the age of three is not normal, and if you see that your baby only uses one hand, this should be brought to the attention of your pediatrician.  *The more you know*

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