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Monday, June 21, 2010

Ode to NAPA

Oh, NAPA, how I love thee.

We're back home from our one week session at the NAPA therapy center. I'm glad to be home, but I was sad to leave.

It was such a great week! I wish we could have done the full three week program, but one week was all we could do for now. I was also comfortable with one week because I wanted to see how well Christian would respond before knowing which therapy to pursue. It's all about trial and error.

Many people ask me about the therapies we've tried for Christian. Sometimes I don't realize that all these words and terminology are not commonplace for the average person. It's often hard to explain what therapies and treatments do, especially when they're alternative treatments. It's also often hard to decipher what results are derived from therapy versus an individual's natural healing process.

So let me tell you about NAPA. It's not hard to explain. Intensive physical therapy for four hours a day. Stretching, exercising, positioning, standing, sitting, moving, moving, moving. It's like special needs boot camp.

Here are some of the things Christian did everyday.

Christian is positioned on his knees and with assistance from the physical therapist, he's balanced and pulled by bungee cords. This exercise is particularly beneficial for Christian because it stretches the heck out of his quadracepts. He is not a fan, by the way.

In this picture, Christian is working with weights and pulleys to strengthen muscle groups. He didn't mind working out his arms. His legs...not so much.

Christian was also able to get on the trampoline in multiple positions (here he is pictured sitting, but he was also on all fours). The bouncing motion from the trampoline gives vestibular input and stimulation, which is particularly beneficial to children with brain injury and/or sensory issues.

Still on the trampoline, Christian is positioned in a side-seated position (both knees facing the same way). He was also not a fan of this position (nor is he ever) because it involves a lot of quadracept stretching. Quads are his weak spot in that they are the hardest muscle on him to stretch because of their high tone.

This is Christian swinging. Yes, swinging. Again, it's really good vestibular stimulation and rocking and swinging is very calming for Christian. His head, trunk, bottom, and both legs are supported by what looks like miniature hammocks suspending him above the table.

At the end of each day, Christian is put in a standing position so he can bear weight on his legs and hips. He was usually exhausted by the end of the day and tried to fall asleep while standing. So the therapist tried the bongos to get his attention. Didn't work, but made for a cute picture!

Christian's last two hours of the day were spent in Tomatis therapy. This is an auditory therapy that Christian "woke up" to while listening. He was always very aware while listening, and at the end of a busy, active, challenging day of therapy, this was like Christian's chill time.

So what can I gather?

I love NAPA, plain and simple. He needs more of it and I wish we could have done the entire program so I could see the full benefits. But a week was enough for me to know we will be pursuing this therapy and working hard to be able to go again, but next time for the entire three weeks.

I met parents with kids like mine. Not exactly like mine, but parents with similar stories. I met beautiful children. It felt so supportive and friendly and...normal? Yeah, it felt normal.

The therapists were amazing. They really believe in the potential of each child that walks through their doors. Not because they say it, but because they live it. They talk to each child like they fully understand. They expect more from these kids and they push and challenge them. They are awesome!

I think Christian feels the same way.

Before we left I spoke with the therapist about what we could work on when we went home. We discussed different ideas and she told me she thought Christian was really communicative (totally true, he will let you know when he hates something). She also said he performs the best at things that are the hardest for him. I have believed this ever since his PT here at home visited him for the first time and pushed him like I'd never seen. It's when he really comes alive.

It's not rocket science. When you stretch and exercise there is progress. Christian's quads look awesome and his legs can now bend with very little effort. The tone has decreased so much and he's even started moving his legs a little more. I'm so anxious to see what three weeks would bring. It's not hard to understand. It's 1+1=2. Exercise and stretching equals results. And I believe that even if the brain isn't ready to take over and make the body stand or sit on its own, at the very least, instensive therapy works the body out in order to maintain it while the brain catches up.

 Unfortunetly, 24 hours after arriving home he came down with a pretty high fever that he's now sleeping off. No worries, his pediatrician says it's just a bug.

But I definitely see more NAPA in our future.


Robin Chlad said...


Rochelle said...

Sounds awesome! I hope the "bug" goes away quickly and he's feeling better. Keep up the great progress, Christian!

Sarah McFarland said...

That sounds great Shauna! I'm totally ready for another auction, by the way! Are you thinking of having another one? I'd love to be able to contribute more this time too!

Sarah (Logan's mom)

ShaunaQ said...

I definitely think we'll be doing another auction in the fall. I'll let you know, Sarah!

WhitneyBooze said...

Do you think we should try it?
I would love to know if any of the good changes 'stick' around....
If you really recommend it, then we will look into it.
He sure looks cute. Hope he's feeling better.
Hugs, WHitney

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