Aquatic therapy went well today and had the twist of three students from the high school there to observe. So the PT did a lot of explaining about what it entails to get someone like Don walking again and how the brain has the ability to reroute itself around the damaged part to make new connections, even as far out from a stroke as Don is. He talked about tone after a stroke and how the body has a hard time letting the muscles relax on the paralyzed side (that wasn't his exact terms, I'm paraphrasing). He explained that Don's brain has somehow been able to find a way to work around the tone recently so that it is no longer holding him back from learning how to walk again. Don, he said, it very weak on his right side from the muscles not being used for so long but he's super strong on his left. He told them that insurance companies were the biggest downside of being a PT because if they had all the time they needed to work with a client, they could get more people like Don functional again. He said it's a constant battle to try to get their clients more paid therapies. Amen to that.
At one point during the session the PT had Don lying on his back with the help of two pool noodles, kicking his legs and bicycling. Boy, did he love that! He was making sounds like a contented kitten. At another point the PT had Don sitting on a ledge in the pool and he put a paddle with holes in it in Don's left hand and had him move it back and forth. He was watching to see if his right, neglect arm would mirror the pattern as we had Don talk to his arm and tell it, "Move!" You could barely see the movement but it was there! He had a medical term for what was happening but I can't remember it. It's so strange to think of Don's arm has having some imperceptible movement going on when it just hangs down like an arm on a rag doll and has been for 7 1/2 years. But he's been able to feel changes in the arm for the past six (?) months or so. He can't talk, of course, to explain how it feels but he'll pet his arm sometimes and make 'hummm' sounds like someone would do when they taste something good.
I am so unhappy that we're losing this PT after Friday! He's getting shifted back to another location 45 miles south of town. I guess he was just filling in for someone on maternity leave. We may have to drop out of group speech class to keep Don in aquatic therapy plus go 15 minutes north of town to another location. There is no one at the place we are currently going who is both strong enough and especially trained to work with stroke patients in the pool. I'm going to talk to the professor at the college tomorrow to see if it will count against Don for getting invited back next semester for the speech clinic if he opts out of the group class for the next six weeks. The rub with going to the other location is the stroke pool therapist only works on Tuesdays and Thursdays, the same days as Don's speech.
Jean Riva ©