Corey’s migraines have downgraded to headaches which is a significant improvement! We were grateful she was feeling better in order to participate in a special opportunity. Aqua Therapy! A close friend of mine introduced us to Paul who has studied and worked ‘in the water’ for 35 years. His specialty is working with orthopedic and brain injury patients.
A young man, currently 36, was injured in a car accident when he was 21. When Paul began working with him, his limbs were contracted to a point that his body locked in the fetal position. Paul worked with him in the pool multiple times per week for several years. Today this young man is not only walking, last year began to drive the family riding mower to help cut his mothers grass.
Paul didn’t know what to expect from Corey. He had the chair lift prepared expecting her to be a maximum assist for transferring from her wheelchair to the pool. He was thrilled that she is a one person assist to not only walk on the pool deck but descend down the pool stairs into the water.
The temperature of the pool is 90 degrees. This is a key component to aide in releasing the tone of her left side.
Corey’s weekly activity varies within each of her therapies. Her most intense exercise is walking on the Lokomat for 20 minutes per week. Today she had a 45 minute swim session.
She had an inflatable neck roll, flotation waist belt (similar to a water skier’s belt) and a pool noodle under her arms. Corey began on her back. We held her ankles as she pulled herself towards us, bending her knees, then pushed back against us (leg squats). Staying on her back, keeping her knees together, she pulled her knees up as she rolled to alternate sides trying to reach knee to shoulder. Next, clam shells ~ bent knees, open/close. Her final exercise included her arms to fan “water angels”.
Once Corey was warmed up it was time to swim. Remaining on her back, we put flippers on her feet. She kicked off the side of the pool to kick across the length of the pool. Paul encouraged her to move her arms to assist her momentum allowing her to complete her first back stroke. After a few laps he taught her how to roll onto her right side to swim on her belly ~ doggie paddle, free-style, it didn’t matter, she was kicking and moving forward!
Next was water walking; a skill that will take time especially wearing flippers! As Paul says, ‘you can’t walk in the water with flippers without lifting your knees’ and he was right. Corey doesn’t lift her left knee on land when she walks. We tease her calling it her Frankenstein walk, especially when she’s tired. She not only lifted her left knee, she took 6 steps forward. The steps weren’t very graceful but they counted!
Her final exercise was to sit on a flotation seat and swivel her legs side to side working her core muscles. Just when she thought she was finished he pushed her for one last exercise. Standing across from the ladder, she held the bars to lean in for a series of push-ups. That did it! She was wiped out and ready for land.
Today’s opportunity was initially arranged to be a one time consultation to teach us the water techniques we could use at the YMCA. Paul was pleasantly surprised with Corey’s strength, flexibility, agility and lack of fear for the water. At the end of her lesson he has generously agreed to work with Corey through August!
I remember leaving Corey’s room at Bryn Mawr, walking across the parking lot to the ‘dorms’, sitting in my little room wondering, wishing she would walk, talk and eat. I’ve watched her push through frustration, exhaustion and pain all the while hoping but never completely confident my wish would come true. As each month passes, my faith strengthens.
We received an amazing gift today. Tonight I find myself feeling excited for the future. Now I have a clear vision of Corey lifting her self to a standing position, temporarily using a walker to guide her steps throughout the house, progressing to canes and then walking independently…it’s a Matter of Time, xoxo