Friday, September 9, 2011

Brace Yourself

Brace yourself...for one cute girl! 

This week was "back to the grind" for Lily. Yesterday was the first of four appointments that she will have this week to help her to get up to snuff.

Lily met with her physical and occupational therapists who are provided through the Early Childhood Intervention program by the state of Utah. This low-cost program is for children up to the age of three. It is a fabulous, well-structured program for ALL children within the state that have all different kinds of special needs. Lily started when she was four-months-old and it has been wonderful to watch her progress.  I think she loves her PTs and OTs more than me because she thinks that every time they come over, they are coming to play with her!

When Lily turns three, she will transition into a state-run preschool that has children with and without special needs in her classroom.  I am so grateful for all the options that are provided for her particular needs.  Actually, we are all lucky to live in a country that provides these services to children with disabilities regardless of their background and financial status.

Lily practicing her standing skills while 
"playing" with her therapists.

In the photo above, Lily is standing with the help of her physical therapist, Susan, while she is working with another educational aid, Corinne. Both are just darling with her. I think Susan would take Lily home if I let her.

Lily loves iPads. We downloaded all sorts of apps that have a cause and effect reinforcement when she plays with them. She loves to push on the screen and have it respond, and it is great therapy for her in the process. Her favorites apps right now are Koi Pond and The Monster at the End of This Book.

Lily has a hard time with her grip. She holds on to most objects for just a few seconds and then becomes fatigued and lets go of the object. In the photo above, they are helping her to hold the ring and figure out how to place it over the pole. This is a very simple task for most two-year-olds, but it is very difficult for Lily. We're getting there!

Lily also goes to a private occupational and speech therapist twice a month along with various appointments with the Rehab and Nutrition clinic at Primary Children's Hospital about every three months. My days are busy!

Bamboo Arm Braces and Jump Start Shoe Inserts

Along with the Early Intervention team, Lily also has a private physical therapist, Mike Workman, of Professional Therapies.  Mike started coming weekly to our home to work with Lily when she was 11-months-old. I know for sure that Lily has a crush on him because she will do all sorts of tricks when he is in the room that she won't do with me!

The Bamboo Braces were invented by Mike. He designed the braces primarily for children with Cerebral Palsy (CP), Hemiplegia, Diplegia and Down Syndrome. They have a plastic stay that inserts into the neoprene and it keeps the child's arm from flexing back into a bent position. Although Lily doesn't have CP, she does have certain tendencies that lean in that direction. For instance, when Lily was younger, she would roll up into a ball with her knees and elbows bent as if ALWAYS in the fetal position. The braces prevented Lily from being able to get "stuck" into a bent position at her elbows. Instead, the braces enhanced her arm stability and encouraged her to reach out for a toy. *We only keep her in the braces for specific periods of time throughout the day and it doesn't cause her to be frustrated, so don't worry! 

Lily (11-months-old) with Mike.

Now that Lily is older, she is less likely to get "stuck" and ball up while on the floor. So the Bamboo Braces help to remind her to straighten out her arms and to pull herself up to play with toys at different levels rather than just at ground-level. (Which she prefers.) Selfishly, I love them because they keep her fingers out of her mouth and lessen the amount of drool that I am constantly having to clean up on and around her. Sometimes the hardest part of this whole disability is how much she drools, and drools, and drools. The muscles in her mouth and throat aren't completely developed causing her to not swallow as often as she should.  

A recent visit with Mike.  
(In case you're wondering, Mike is wearing knee pads to keep from 
getting rug burns while rolling around on the carpet when working with Lily.) 

The pink beauties below are her "Jump Starts" and they are inserted into her shoes.  Jump Starts are orthopedic foot braces that keep Lily's ankles from hyperextending and nearly touching the carpet. Ewww! Her bones are still really bendable because she hasn't built up enough strength and muscle in her lower body. These braces help her ankles stay steady and straight. Since she isn't walking, she mainly wears these when she is "doing time" in her Stander.

This is how the Jump Starts fit into her shoes.

Any shoe would work, but I usually have to pull out the insole.  For this reason, these Tom's were the easiest option for getting her braces and feet in and out of her shoes. Plus, I think of it as being Lily's little contribution in helping to save the world. (One shoe purchased, Tom's donates new shoes to a child in need.) 

Since the Jump Starts are plastic, Lily's feet sweat profusely. Yuck! So I put her in a sock that wicks the moisture away from her skin and keeps her foot from slipping around too much in the brace.  I'm not sure if it does any good, but I always try to put myself in Lily's place. I mean, I would want a wicking sock to keep my foot from being too hot and soggy! So I do it to make myself not feel so guilty for putting her into all these contraptions.

The braces help her arms to straighten out and  
stabilize her while "attempting" to crawl.
She loves showing off for the camera.
After all that hard work, she gets some 
time to play with her puzzles.
Life isn't so bad for this little flower girl. I caught her peeking
around the couch and it cracked me up because she is always
checking me out.  I'm flattered.