I'm finally and reluctantly sitting down to write about our experience at Europeds. I'm fresh off the boat so I'm still dreamy from the whole experience and enamored with the entire excursion. So I'll hold back my comparisons for my next post. In fact, I'm pretty sure this will be a three-parter 'cus I've got a boat load of pictures and things to say.
I just want to write about our two weeks in Michigan right now and therapy Christian received there. I had a hard time getting the time or the words to write about it until I talked it out and mulled it around in my brain for a few days.
I'm sad the whole trip is over. I'm on trip hangover. We're right back in the swing of things at home and sometimes when you jump back into the real life that's waiting for you, it makes it seem like you were never away in the first place.
When we arrived at Euro-Peds on that first Monday morning, we found Euro-Peds on the 4th floor. It's an old hospital in a small town called Pontiac. We were greeted in the waiting area and then Christian was taken back to a "gym," which is a private room outfitted with therapy equipment. He was evaluated and the two therapists discussed with me the areas of concentration.
Therapy begins in a room with a massage table. This is where two hours of massage, stimulation, range of motion, and stretching is done. To warm up the muscles, large heating pads are placed over the legs and arms. This is also where Christian received his facial massages and where the electrical stimulation was placed on certain muscles.
Electric stimulation working with reaching.
Electrical stimulation for the abdominal muscles.
After the two hour warm up, Christian moved to a "gym." It's not a gym in the traditional sense, but it is a room with therapy equipment, swings, balls, and toys. This is where we worked on most of what was essential.
So what was essential?
Let me back up...
After moving to the gym on the first day, Christian got a stretch in his quad muscle that pushed him a little too far. I'm not really sure how because it happened at the split second that I looked away. But there was no fracture.
It kind of set a tone for those first few days. I wanted Christian to be pushed and challenged. I remember taking Christian to NAPA and just handing him over and they stretched him and he cried and they worked him and he cried some more and that was our four hours.
Because of Christian's immediate sore leg so early on, the therapists were a little more timid with him, which worried me. It worried me to the point of wondering if I had made the right decision in taking him all the way to Michigan. It was a real internal struggle for me.
Finally, at the end of week one, Christian's leg was okay again. I spoke with his therapist about the therapy and she explained something very key. We have to build on head, neck, and trunk control. Without these things, he won't be able to build on anything else. We can stand him, do passive range of motion, and all that jazz, but it doesn't mean anything unless he's got the goods.
But didn't he have the goods? Well, yes and no. He had some head control but it was very tone driven. Tone is not true head control. Extension is not true head control. We needed to build the muscles in his body truly responsible for holding his head up. And since Christian has less tone now, we have less extension, and less head control.
Finally, I got it. And the second week, I think every day Christian got a little better. We worked and worked and worked on head and neck control. Hours, literally. And we didn't only work on holding the his head up, but lifting it all the way up. We worked with reaching and touching and keeping hands open. It was concentrated, it was meticulous, but the therapist never gave up on him.
All I can say is that Christian went from this...
Lola helping brother get that heavy head up.
Just barely keeping up his head with constant stimulation.
Christian in the cage trying to keep his head up.
...and ended with this...
And this was lifting his head up....all the way up from resting on the ball...by himself!
We wanted another week. It was the perfect combination of pushing and challenging Christian, without causing him a lot of pain or stress.
At this point, I'm so driven to make sure he gets more of this. I'm also dumbfounded as to why this isn't available and accessible to all children who need it. It's so plain and simple. When Christian arrived at Euro-Peds he could not lift his head without using his tone and extension. When he left, he could. Not only could he truly lift his head, he was also reaching again, his hands are open and exploring the world around him, and he's moving more. Why? Because his core is strengthened.
Euro-Peds also recorded our sessions and certain stretches and exercises on a DVD so we could take it home and continue the progress.
I have so much more to say about the program, about the people of Michigan, about intensive therapy, in general. But I will wrap this up because it's now a really long blog.
Right now I just want to celebrate my little graduate!
"You did it!"
Mommy, Christian, and tireless PT, Miss Shelly
The end...or just the beginning.