Daniel has worked really hard. We knew he was weak, and in some ways it has been nice to identify exactly which muscles are the really weak ones, and start to focus on them. On the other hand, nobody likes to be constantly reminded of their deficiencies.....
He has done a lot of core work, and also some leg work. Mike is very funny, and makes Daniel laugh, but he is also very strict, and is completely unmoved by tears!
Daniel's hard work has included-
- Some asymmetric work - very difficult for Daniel to have the two sides of his body doing different things, especially at speed.
- A lot of core and balancing work. In this photo Daniel looks like he is having a nice sit on Mike's knee. In fact he is working extremely hard on balancing, without being able to use his legs at all, and finding it very hard indeed!
- Practising standing balancing. When Daniel was wearing his tall splints a few months ago he could balance for a few seconds. However, since going down to the small splints, which give him much less support, he has found this a lot more difficult, and has never managed more than a couple of seconds. Mike is hoping to improve that by the end of next week.
- Total gym work, to strengthen his legs, both with both legs at once, and just one leg at a time. This is very valuable since Daniel's right leg is stronger than his left, so when pushing with two legs, he will still put more weight through his right. Hence the need to work both legs separately.
The low point of the week came on Thursday, when Daniel was forced to confront his phobia of the treadmill, which has been steadily increasing over the last couple of months. The treadmill here is particularly difficult for him because the handrails are at shoulder height for him, so although he can use them for balance, he can't bear any of his weight through his arms at all (which is what he is used to doing in his walker). He has to weight-bear entirely through his trunk and legs, which might not seem like a big deal to you, but certainly is to him, and he feels very unsafe doing it. On Thursday he had rather a panic, which eventually became a full meltdown. I was asked to leave the gym (I was ready for that, because I had seen it happen to other parents the day before. It was distressing, but I knew it was coming, and could still watch through the little window!) Mike calmed Daniel but made it very clear that the tears were irrelevant and would make no difference to whether Daniel went on the treadmill or not! Eventually he went back on and managed the allotted time, still hiccupping! However, that night he proudly told Daddy on the phone that he had "conquered his fear of the treadmill"! I must say I was not at all convinced, cynical mother that I am, but sure enough on Friday morning, when we arrived he said to Mike "I'm ready to go on the treadmill", and he did! He wasn't happy on there, but he managed it, and I was bursting with pride at the courage he showed!
Mike has taken the hip supports off Daniel's walker, and locked the wheels, as well as tilting it forwards slightly. That has made it quite a bit more difficult for Dan, as he has to bear weight fully through his legs, while lifting the walker to turn, and he has no hip support to lean against. He has a tendency to walk close to the left of the walker, I think for security, because his left leg is weaker. So, Mike has put an elastic tie thing (it has an official physio name, but I can't remember it right now) round his waist, to pull him back into the middle as he walks. It is all intended to make him work harder, and it does.
Today has been our one day off, and we have had a lovely day at Pitlochry with Grandma (who is here for the whole two weeks to help) and Grandpa (who has joined us for the weekend). The children loved the 'wibbly, wobbly' suspension bridge and both had fun jumping in puddles! Dan managed to walk all the way across the bridge and back with his new walker set-up, even though he clearly finds it more difficult.
Tomorrow we start week 2. Bring it on!