No Right Click

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Is She Walking?

 "Is she walking?"  We get this question a lot about Nora.  The short answer is no.  No, she is not walking...yet.  We don't know when she will walk.

Some kids with cerebral palsy never walk.  Some walk quickly.  Some are walking for four years before they no longer need a device assisting them, like a walker or gait trainer.  Some never walk without a walker or canes.

We, along with the doctors and therapists, see nothing that will hinder Nora from walking long-term, but it is going to take a while to get to that point.

Her gross motor skills are still very much that of a baby.  When babies are born with cerebral palsy, they (most of them) don't explore their bodies the same way other babies do.  They don't reach up in the air to look at their arms and move their hands.  They don't roll over or lift their heads up.  They don't kick their legs.  They need parents or early intervention therapists who will help them explore their bodies.  Nora never had anyone to push her to the next milestone or help her explore what her body can do.

In a lot of ways, we're starting from back at that point.  She can roll over, bear weight on her legs if she has something/someone to hold onto or a wall to lean against, kick her legs while laying, take some steps while supported, along with some other gross motor skills.  She can sit up for a little while if I sit her up.  She can reach for objects (she can reach across her body now!).  She can hold her own cup and hand me her cup when she is done and I ask her to hand it to me (Guys, she can hand me her cup!  We've been working on this for weeks and two days ago she started doing it on her own!  This is BIG for her.)

We are working and struggling to overcome anxiety and fear, laziness, learned helplessness, and self-entitlement that years of trauma and years of laying in a crib or stroller all day have led to and brought out in our little girl's heart.  Our girl would be content to just lay all day and have us do mostly everything for her.  Physical therapy sessions can be and most days are a battle.  Hard work is well...HARD.  And she doesn't want to do it.  She doesn't want to be pushed to the next level.  If I laid around for five and a half years, it would be awfully difficult for me to want to work after that.

Nora doesn't see the joy that's to come when she gains these new skills.  She doesn't know that the more she works, the easier these skills will become and the more freedom and control she will have over her life.  We push her to persevere because she has no desire to do it on her own.  We push through the tantrums and body flailing.  We make her work because we love her.

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As for where Nora is at right now, the big goals right now are to

  1. Build neck strength and stability through keeping her head in neutral position 
  2. Build shoulder strength and stability 
Building upper body stability is the main goal.  Which means LOTS of belly time.

Then core strength (which she already has a decent amount of since we focused on core strength for so long).
Then leg strength and then mobility.  She will be gaining some leg strength, now, through her stander.

These things seem so simple to you and me, but to the body of a child with cerebral palsy, these stability exercises are strenuous and exhausting and do not come naturally.  We work to do the exercise below on a daily basis at home.

This is what Physical Therapy looks like:

Totally thrilled to be doing this ;)  
On her belly, elbows under her shoulders, hands open, head in neutral position- 
we work to hold this position for at least 20 min.
 

Sideline on her right elbow- weight on right elbow, try to keep head up, hold for 5-10 min and build over time



Sideline on her left elbow- the hardest one of all.  Try to hold for at least 5 minutes.  Work to hold head up.  

The first position on both elbows is getting pretty easy for Nora, but sideline is the difficult one-- especially on her left elbow.  Sideline on her left elbow feels to Nora's body what a marathon would feel like to our bodies.  It's ridiculously hard because that arm is the weakest and tightest part of her body.

We do some other work, like letting her explore what her body can do while she lays on an exercise ball and working on hands and knees crawling position (quad) with a small exercise ball under her belly, but those are not the main goals.  

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For months before starting formal PT, we worked on core strength because isn't core strength huge?  Who would have thought neck and shoulder stability were just as critical? :)

"Look Ma, no hands!"  She experiments with no hands more and more. 
 Love seeing her confidence build! (Pic taken a few months ago)

Look at those legs holding onto the table!  She is using her hamstrings!! When Nora came home, she didn't even know her hamstrings existed.  If she sat on the edge of the table like this then, her legs would have just floated out in front of her.  She is gaining so much control over them.  It's so exciting watching her brain discover new things! 

God is redeeming Nora!  We are so thankful that He sustained her body all those years in the orphanage!  

1 comment:

  1. It is amazing to see her develop her strength and self-confidence. Keep pushing through those PT sessions, they are so worth it. Blessings to you and your family. And how is Noah doing?

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