It’s been a while since I’ve shared about Simeon’s progress in physical therapy. The truth is, working on his speech became such a priority last year that I plumb forgot to mention how well the kid is doing in PT. When your child has Spina Bifida, physical therapy becomes a big part of your everyday life so I think it’s high time I filled you in on what the kid has been up to.
The older Simeon gets, the more we work on practical tasks rather than simply strength building. Personally, I LOVE this aspect of PT. It’s fun to watch him gain independence around the house and physical therapy plays a major role in his confidence level.
A few things we’re working on:
- Getting into bed or onto the couch by crawling/climbing up his therapy wedge (we use this one) or his soft stairs (these stairs from Children’s Factory were recommended by a fellow SB mom— they’re great!).
- Building upper body strength. We work on this by doing activities while standing in his leg braces (for around 45 minutes a day), army crawling, and a few other tasks like little push-ups in his wheelchair (he lifts his bottom off the seat of his chair by putting his hands on the wheels and pushing himself up) and what I call “toddler crunches.”
- Sitting hands-free. We’re still working on this one but his sitting has gotten so much better in the past year. Due to the level of paralysis in his legs and patootie muscles and because of some lower core weakness (for you SB folks, Simeon’s lesion level is L1/L2), Simeon is most stable if he has one hand on the floor or on his thigh while sitting. He sits just fine this way but it’s hard to play with toys or perform other tasks when you only have one free hand. Working on his core strength made a difference and, if positioned correctly, he can sit hands free for short periods of time.
- General stretching. We do light stretching of Simeon’s legs once or twice a day to avoid tightness at the knee and ankles (this is one that his nurses and I do but Simeon likes to help too!). Tightness is a common issue in people who experience paralysis but regular stretching can help avoid contractures.
- Getting into his wheelchair from the floor. This is one task that seemed colossal to me but Simeon is quickly becoming a pro. I certainly couldn’t pull myself from the floor into a chair without a little help from my legs but practice makes perfect and Simeon doesn’t mind the challenge. He loves his wheelchair so that’s great motivation, too!
Simeon still sees his physical therapist at home while I’m at work– something I hate missing every week but at this point we don’t have an alternative– but this week, thanks to an unexpected snow day (woot!), I was able to be there for his session and shoot some video. This one was my favorite. You can see how hard he’s working to get himself into that chair!
Since I’m super proud, I’ll go ahead and point out that he’s doing most of the lifting himself. His wonderful therapist guides his legs so they don’t drag him back down but otherwise Sim is in control of this one. I love how he moves his leg at the end to position it on the footplate. He really hasn’t been aware of the existence of his legs in the past, so figuring out that his legs are there and that they belong to him is BIG. Many independent tasks will require him to be conscious of where his legs are in space. Way to go, little strongman!
Getting into a wheelchair from the floor (the toddler way):
If you have questions about Simeon’s therapy progress, feel free to ask. I’ll tell you what I know.