Anyone that has been through a trauma will tell you the trite cliches repeatedly quoted lose their source of comfort after the first thousand. Among those most frequently recited, “when one door closes, another will open”…I can honestly tell you, waiting in the hallway is no picnic! The best quote to follow that retort is, “good things come to those that wait”. We not only know how to wait but I’m happy to say, the good keeps getting better as well.
We are about to close another chapter in Corey’s story of recovery. After 3 years and 3 months, tomorrow will be Corey’s last day at Bryn Mawr’s Neuro Out-Patient program. I can virtually hear a few gasps from our most loyal readers and prayer warriors. This is not bad news. This change begins a new chapter…we might call it, Recipes written in the Hallway.
Corey shared her first change; returning to the Candy Store. She loves being back and had a successful second day with Caitlin as her assistant last week. When Caitlin and I accompany Corey, we are given a ‘ToDo’ list from Sue and her staff. Corey carries out 90% of the task at hand only relying on us for a reminder (or ten) on directions, an extra hand if the task is difficult to manipulate and/or assistance standing and walking. At home, she continues to workout on her bike. She averages 1 to 1.5 miles every other day, and we have fully integrated her home vision and vestibular exercises from Carrick in our weekly routine, including spinning! (this weekend we received a beauticians chair for our home gym..aka the living room).
Adding Corey’s Neuro Behavioral psychologist/cognitive specialist weekly, Carrick’s visual and vestibular exercises and working with Sue to return to the candy store once a week for her social/community integration, NOT working with the professional therapists at Bryn Mawr had me very, very concerned about Corey’s continued physical progress. There are days I feel like a juggler. Just when I think I’ve added everything Corey needs and I get them all up in the air at the same time…one drops. Good news, it bounced back up!
I received a letter from a PhD student working with the chairman of the Physical Therapy department at University of Delaware. We were referred to her from a carepage friend. My friends daughter was in a car accident 18 years ago. Anne’s car accident was similar to Corey’s and she sustained many of the same injuries as well as the severity of her TBI. Anne’s mother and I have become penpals over the last 5 years. We had the pleasure of meeting them both when they attended one of our Brain Injury talks a few years ago. Anne has been a pioneer participant for one of the research studies UofD is currently executing.
Dr. Cole Galloway, a University of Delaware professor, researcher and Chairman of the Physical Therapy department, created GoBabyGo. He collaborated with engineers and fashion designers and with parents and grandparents, to provide mobility to kids who have trouble moving on their own.
Galloway started with custom robot-driven devices and later began modifying off-the-shelf toy racecars to provide mobility to children with crawling and walking problems, empowering them to be part of the action at home, in the daycare center, and on the playground.
The team has developed kid-friendly exoskeletons to promote upper-body movement as well as harness systems to provide partial body-weight support and free their hands and feet for sports-type activities.
In 2014, Dr. Cole Galloway and his team pushed the envelop turning their focus to the adult population within the Traumatic Brain Injury world. How could adults benefit from the harness system? Could it enable those with limited mobility from brain injury or stroke re-enter a work environment? Brainstorming sessions confirmed there is limited information on a critical demographic; the severe to moderate levels of injury.
What environment do most adults enjoy? A coffee shop!
The team created GoBabyGo Cafe. Dr. Galloway developed his harness system for the cafe with the help of Newark-based Enliten, LLC, which manufactured the canopy structure out of aluminum and steel bars. The harness enables those with limited mobility from a brain injury or stroke to work, while also benefiting from a rehabilitative physical therapy session.
(Per the Newark Post) The version used at the GoBabyGo Cafe kiosk is known as the Oasis – Open Area Support System – it can handle patients of up to 300 pounds and it can be easily designed to fit in almost any shape room. Unlike the one at the Early Learning Center at UofD, it doesn’t require power. Galloway explained that users are connected to the support structure with a strap that provides no lift when the user is moving but catches the person if he or she starts to fall. A counterbalance or elastic connection between the user and the structure provides a steady vertical force to reduce the load on the user’s legs. A turntable enables the user to change direction with a twist of the wrist, allowing her to move anywhere within the 50-square-foot structure. With all the support coming from overhead, Galloway said, users like Anne are free to interact with their surroundings with no interference.
Galloway’s team is working with a grant from the National Institutes for Health to test the impact of using the harnesses in a workplace setting on muscle and joint strength.
Corey will be the second person in their study. We are thrilled to find this new door! The ancillary benefits of not just standing but walking, using both her arms, improving her speech as she interacts with customers, eventually learning the steps involved in taking an order, writing it down, physically walking to the coffee machine to make latte’s, deliver the product, collect money, make change all while balancing is beyond what I could have hoped we would find for her. Working with students her age, the opportunity to ‘feel normal’ but above all, the chance to develop confidence and truly experience a renewed sense of independence is something I hoped for but secretly wasn’t sure would come true.
This study comes at a critical time for Corey’s personal and emotional growth as well as pushing her physical strength and stamina. She will be working 3 days a week, 2 hours each day. The study will formally run for 2 months, but Corey will be invited to stay on as a volunteer if she wants to continue. Anne has been working at the cafe for 8 months. She and Corey met this week. Anne assured her she loves her job. She feels freedom for the first time in her adult life and she is making friends working with other young adults.
(per the Newark Post) Galloway said he envisions more harness systems coming out of physical therapy clinics and into schools, shops and workplaces, and the GoBabyGo Café is just the first step. Galloway said it’s important for people with limited mobility to get moving in their community so they avoid the psychological and physical isolation associated with disability. The harness system opens up possibilities and motivates people to get out and interact with others, he said.
To Galloway, there are no limits to where a harness can go. “We’re absolutely putting a harness in a food truck,”.
CAN YOU IMAGINE?!?!?
Chef Corey working in a food truck…that’s going to be a fun chapter to write! xoxo