The swelling in Corey’s arm has almost fully subsided and there was no discoloration today. We had a good day at Bryn Mawr with Kate (ST) and Elaine (OT) playing games.
Speech and Occupational Therapy is more than just the physical motion of moving the upper body and learning to speak. They both address cognitive therapy as well. Cognitive therapy includes exercises to help an individual remember the “how to’s” of functional living. For instance the use of organizational tools such as a calendar or fact book. The fact book is still beyond Corey’s capabilities but it will eventually be a tool to list the answers of her most frequently asked questions. Rather then her asking another person her question, it would be written down on her fact sheet with the answer for her to retrieve independently. When Corey is reading more fluently, this could be an invaluable resource for her to strengthen her short term memory loss.
Today’s cognitive therapy included games. In ST, we played an adapted game of 20 questions. We each had to pick a Disney film character and secretly write their name on a post-it note. The note was passed to the person on our left (don’t cheat and peak!). We placed the post-it note on our foreheads. We could see our opponents character but did not know who our character was. Each player in turn has to ask a question about their character trying to guess “who they are”.
Corey had a great time and she was asking very good questions! She also appropriately answered her opponents questions giving clues to their character. Each of Corey’s answers were listed on a white board to help her remember what questions she already asked (this was an introduction to the concept of the fact book I mentioned earlier). We had a great time with the questions and answers!
In Elaine’s session we played CHOC-Kers. A version of checkers but the discs were actually Hershey Kisses (unfortunately they were plastic pieces not eatible chocolate…i might have to adapt this game as well). Corey not only remembered how to play checkers, she was demonstrating some advanced strategic moves to block her opponent! We gave very few prompts to help her through the game.
Although today was a game day, Corey was exercising her brain harder than the workouts that focus on her body. Everything we do is therapy! Games, cooking, dishes, laundry, walking, talking, emails, text messaging, music, art and the list goes on. The brain is astounding. It literally controls every thought as well as each movement the body makes. Take a minute to recall your day from the moment of consciousness as you woke up this morning. Did you begin by creating your daily TO DO list? Did you roll over, sit up, stand up, walk to the shower, choose your clothes, dress, cook breakfast, eat, swallow, drink, swallow, clean the plates, gather what you needed for the day, head to the car, open the door, sit in the car, turn the key…and so on and so on. Hundreds of thousands of thoughts and actions clearly and routinely executed without hesitation.
Now role play your day as a survivor with a Brain injury that has short term memory loss and physical limitations. Corey woke up, asked for help to roll over, stand and take 4 steps to the bedside commode. She needs help to complete her personal care, dress, stand, walk, step down to the chair glide and walk to the kitchen. She doesn’t know the day, date, month or time. After breakfast she is unaware she ate asking when breakfast will be served. The days activities are listed and forgotten within seconds after they are spoken.
The contrast between these two examples is staggering yet, everyday we treat Corey as if she is living normally and she gives us small signs that she is progressing towards that end. She can’t remember eating breakfast or the response to “where are we going” but she asks poignant questions about her Disney Character. She looks at a photograph of an Apple yet can’t identify it but she can strategically block the path of her opponent setting them up for a double jump to be Kinged at the opposite side of the checker board!
The greatest lesson we’ve learned is therapy reveals our next direction ~ and its not a straight line. Every task teaches us not only what Corey can do physically, intellectually and emotionally, but what she can strengthen and what has yet to be disclosed! Life is therapy…don’t be afraid to try something new; who knows what talents and achievements will be discovered!! Xoxo