Welcome to Miami

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!).

ABR testing

ABR testing

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.

ABR testing

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.

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  1. that’s so awesome! very cool.

  2. Go Charlie! and Go Mama! Y’all are both such an inspiration!

    • Thank you Lindy and Pam! It’s so nice that you mamas of typical kids read through something like this that is so technical, and not terribly interesting.

  3. Hello,
    May I ask how long have you been doing ABR and how it worked for you?

    • Lily:
      We’ve been doing ABR since October of 2008, but we took almost a year off for the pregnancy and birth of my twins, so our accomplishments are a result of about two and a half years in the program. I have been VERY happy with ABR as it’s a good fit for my child and my family. If you click on my ABR link under the “Categories” heading you can see all my posts on it complete with a discussion of what improvements we saw and how long it took us to see them.

  4. Excellent! So clear improvements can only encourage you to continue.

    PS Congrats on your fourth boy.

  5. 😀 oh wow it is so great when you can see the progress in black and white. Wonderful YAY Charlie! Yay you

  6. We’ve been doing ABR with my son Adam for 8 years, so I’ve watched the development and the evolution of Leonid’s approach to re-sculpting the body to move toward mobility and function…the changes which I see in your progress pictures are pretty amazing..a definite change toward structural flexibility and mobility. We used to say keep pumping, but I guess it’s now keep rolling….great progress, should make you proud!

    • Phil:
      We’ve always been very blessed in that Charlie has a great response to the therapy–probably because we started it when he was so young. We almost always see some sort of functional within six months.

  7. Absolutely brilliant progress. The photos of the progress are priceless and just amazing! That’s absolutely fantastic! We’ve been with ABR for almost 2 years this March. Love Mel xxx

    • I’m not sure I could keep going if they didn’t show me some progress shots!!! I visit ours whenever I’m feeling un-motivated.

  8. I know, I’m the same, it’s the progress shots which are my motivation too. Oatie after 6 months went from crawling to standing in open space, by 9 months he was taking a few steps, the distance hasn’t improved but little things that arent visible to my eye like he now bends his knees when he walks or he can now kick a light ball while standing.

    Charlie’s photos are brilliant! So happy for you all. Love Mel xxx

  9. Love the comparison pics! So nice to see actual progress in pictures and not just “thinking” progress is bing made–actual proof! Way to go! We do MEDEK therapy, and I love seeing the difference the therapy has made.

  10. Wow, I can totally see it in the pictures, that’s wonderful Katy! He’s doing great. Thanks for showing this to us. And GO CHARLIE!!