Today Corey had three 90 minute sessions. She repeated each of the exercises I detailed in yesterday’s post with a few additions.
Addition #1 – Deep breathing
Corey’s posture and years of sitting in her wheelchair has actually shifted her internal organs, including her diaphragm. The shift causes shallow breathing patterns. We practiced several times throughout the day working on her posture and teaching her to take a deep breath in through her nose for 2 seconds and exhale as if she’s blowing bubbles for a count of 4 seconds. This technique will help Corey with relaxation and anxiety…(this addition was added after Corrine stopped in several times to visit).
The best time to practice the new breathing exercise was during the viber-percussion session. We are beginning to notice an increased range of motion, ease in flexibility opening/closing her hand and increased speed in Corey’s eye/hand coordination. We ask Corey to lift her left arm straight out in front of her to grasp our hand. We then move our hand in a varied pattern asking her to find/reach and grasp her target. Her arm is lifting and dropping to a relaxed position with less of a ratcheted motion, her elbow is straight and her reach is extended faster to her left side. We are also noticing her left arm dropping as we walk (it is typically bent at the elbow with a tight fist). Her left leg seems to be looser as well. Tram explained that our balance is achieved as we walk with both arms to the side of our bodies and we swing with our normal gate.
Addition #2 – OBK vision;
Corey is now counting the passing lines out loud. The goal is for Tram to silently count down 10-1 as Corey counts out loud 1-10. Each line passes across the screen at one second intervals. This helps in 3 ways; 1. keeping Corey’s head centered as her eyes track the lines. 2. Counting out loud uses the left side of the brain. 3. This also increases general reflexes and increased motion response.
Addition #3 – rebuilder bath
At the end of each session, after the SPIN machine, Corey goes into the quiet room. It is dark and filled with recliners. We remove her shoes and socks. Tram places electrodes on each foot and then places her feet in warm water. I’m sure you all are thinking ‘this is electric shock therapy’ but its not…the electric stem targets the primitive brain and cranial nerves which were developed first. The water is not only soothing but takes her back to the comforted space in the womb. The rebuilder wakes up the sensory and vestibular section of the primal brain. The functional benefit will help Corey become aware of her feet and her foot placement as she walks.
Aside from therapy;
Over the last 3 days, we have met families from Canada, Montana, Boston, California, Arizona and Maine. Every story is different but each family has been affected by a traumatic brain injury. One young girl is 20, she received her concussions from ice hockey. She can no longer tolerate light and can no longer understand Science or Math (left brain injury…she was a science major interested in PT). The young man from California, 28, owned his own construction company and fell on the site of a job. He is trying to regain the use of his left leg. (Right brain injury). The young woman from Canada, 30, lost her vision, hearing, and use of her limbs as well as strength in her skeletal muscle tissue from multiple concussions. She has been coming to Carrick for a year. She arrived in a wheelchair, graduated to a walker and is currently walking independently. Her hearing is coming back in her right ear and she has 20/20 vision.
The mothers, fathers and spouses I’ve met and spoken to all agree…TBI not only changes the life of our loved one but changes each family member as well. This is the most difficult life experience any of us has ever faced. The accomplishments our loved ones have achieved are all significant and in many cases are miraculous. That being said, all of realize this is a day to day walk. There is no miracle cure. The Carrick Brain Center offers alternative methods of functional neurology which enhances all the ‘other’ therapies our loved ones tirelessly work on each day. The brain requires a myriad of stimuli, strategies and techniques to function.
Dr. Ross sat with me privately to discuss some of the coping techniques I utilize as a caregiver. The simple question broke down my defenses and I began to cry…I can be strong for my family but get me alone and the tears are quick to surface…definitely one of my ‘private’ techniques. The following conversation was not about Corey. We spoke about our healthy brains. “Where do thoughts of the past, present and future come from”? The answer; the frontal lobe. “Which thought causes the most pain for the caregiver”? The answer; the future…because it is the unknown. We have no idea what will happen for us, our families or for our loved one and that pain is greater than what we deal with each day and even deeper than what happened causing the injury.
So how do we cope with that pain? We stay in the present.
What can we do to stay in the present moment?
…This will be tomorrow’s lesson, xoxo