After taking almost a year off, Charlie and I headed for Florida to learn some new ABR exercises.If I’m leaving you clueless, ABR is an experimental therapy technique that we do on Charlie. I’ve written oodles about it in the past, but the simple version is: we’ve tried it, and we’ve been very happy with the results, so we keep doing it. Rocket science it ain’t.
The goal of ABR is to try to improve the structure of the body–to make things work better and move more normally. A good goal, yes? Well, when you visit, they try to show you how your hard work has paid off. It can often be difficult to see small changes, or in some cases, you see that your child is doing things differently, but you can’t put your finger on the specifics.
So, the lovely people at ABR look at pictures they’ve taken of your child and videos you’ve done. They compare the two and make a neat little report for you that details their greatest areas of progress.
It’s been over a year since our last visit, but I did get in about six months of work before pregnancy, Parvo, and newborns put me out of commission. Still, they got the old photographs and we were able to see some definite improvements. Awesome!
The greatest improvement is in the area of his shoulders. While sitting, he does a better job of catching himself if he tips over. If you try to put him down on his stomach, he’s able to prevent face planting (super-useful!).
The other changes are more things that look different about his body and that may help with function in the future. First, we’ve gotten some more length to his neck. This helps with head control and I remember when I was working on his neck last year, the teachers at school definitely mentioned an improvement in head control. The second major change is in his legs. Now, I would have probably never noticed this without ABR, but a common issue for kids with cerebral palsy is that when you move one leg, the other moves too. And let me throw this out there too–once ABR points something out, you can’t NOT see it. Anything they point out, I see it not only in Charlie, but in every single kid with CP.
But about the changes. Used to be, if you lifted one leg, the other leg, and half his backside would move with it. Now, both legs still move, but his back stays nice and flat on the table. We’ll keep working and hopefully we’ll get those legs to move completely independently of one another.
Since people like the hard facts, I’d estimate that we achieved these changes with about 180 hours of hands-on therapy. We had some machine time, but not as much as we would have liked since Charlie has been struggling with sleep issues on and off for the past year. We pretty much had to restrict its use to his hips/pelvis area. The neck and shoulder improvements are probably a direct result of hands-on therapy. Up next for us? lots of work on the pelvis, which will hopefully translate into better use of his legs and move movement in that area in general. Also, work on his mid-back to improve his posture overal.