Two years ago I got on a plane, which I hate, and traveled to Montreal, Canada to learn an alternative therapy technique known as ABR. There was little information available on this therapy, but a video I saw on Terrible Palsy had me convinced that we had to try it. It made sense to me–the questions I had about Charlie’s broken body were all answered by this therapy. The theories spoke to me.
So off we went.
The reality of ABR is simple activities done with household items. It’s about hours of hard work and not miracle cures. I’ve often joked that there’s probably a permanent dent in the couch from all the time I spent sitting there, working on Charlie.
Four different households contributed the funds required for this therapy. We couldn’t have done it without their generosity. I can say, without hesitation, however, that it was money well-spent.
The child I took to Montreal two years ago had had little physical development in first nineteen months of his life. He could roll from his front to his back. He was beginning to show awareness of commando crawling, but needed help to complete it. He could prop sit if perfectly placed, but would eventually topple. He had the desire, but that little body just wasn’t strong enough. Some people would claim that the development he’s had since was spontaneous and natural, but I would remind you that your average 13 month old can walk. Charlie could barely move at 19 months.
So what do I think we’ve accomplished with two years of ABR? I’ll break it down as simply as I can:
- Improved breathing and lung capacity. After we began ABR, I could actually feel Charlie’s chest start to expand for the first time. Before that, only his diaphragm would move.
- Improved strength–he began being able to roll on to his stomach, could commando crawl independently, sits independently in a shopping cart, sits and uses one arm independently.
- He can push up on his stomach and fully extend both arms.
- He can crawl up a one foot step.
- His legs are no longer frog-like and have rotated inward.
- He can hold his head up while looking down at a tray table.
- Able to get himself into the four-point crawl position ( no movement, yet)
We have baffled the doctors as his hamstrings have not gotten worse like they predicted. His scoliosis has actually improved from one x-ray to another. He is strong and healthy despite his physical limitations. In the beginning, any illness would land us in the hospital for days which was exhausting.
When we began ABR, we agreed to do two years of training. Many families that started with us didn’t finish. It’s tough. We have finished and we will be going back in about six months. I probably do half the recommended hours and Charlie still gets stronger and stronger. You should see some of the other kids–it’s amazing.
I know that many people who read this blog are interested in ABR, but have been held back by finances or travel. ABR is working on both of those things. They are in the process of hiring professionals who live in the U.S. to get trained in their techniques. They are also in the very early stages of trying to get their therapy approved by insurance companies. They are conducting several studies to measure the effectiveness of their techniques. If proven effective, this will greatly aid in getting insurance to cover the therapy.
So there ya go! Wrapping up two years of ABR and grateful that we’ve been able to experiment with this therapy. For our family, it has been truly extraordinary.