Today was Colten’s first PT appointment with EarlyOn Michigan. He had some appointments back in the hospital, and EarlyOn came to do paperwork and lay out his IFSP a few weeks ago. But today we finally got to work!
I am still struggling with therapies as a whole. Part of me really wants to ignore any therapy or study or trial and just let Colten BE. See what happens later and just let him develop as he is, then he can decide what’s important and worth focusing on. But I also know that if we don’t make the necessary brain-body connections, or we don’t help his body develop in a structurally supportive way, that we are setting him up for more of a struggle. My personal experiences with PT were the result of injuries or surgeries. There was a clear issue, a plan of action, a defined length of time, and a set goal. That goal always included the return of full-function. When I think of Colten engaging in PT work, I have to completely redo my concept of it. He will have various and changing issues over time, with now being the least intense compared to what he will need down the line. He will have multiple and varied plans of action, a never-ending time frame, and many goals throughout his life. Full-functioning in the “typical” sense may never be a reality but functioning to his fullest potential certainly will be! Right now we aren’t sure which therapy or study is going to fit right for him and our entire family. We are still exploring and learning.
I was quite curious what all PT would even entail at this point since there isn’t a ton he should be doing at two months anyhow. And sure enough, there wasn’t much done compared to what you or I would endure during PT, but it sure tired him out by the end. His therapist worked on getting him to focus on aligning his head “midline”, as he still tends to tip it to one side of his body. She laid him on his back and kind of cuddled her arms into his sides, leaned over him and drew his attention to her. While he was focusing straight up at her, she gently pushed his shoulders down away from his ears – he still is very tight up there. She did some gentle vibrations and he reacted like this:
So at least he enjoyed it! She did some stretching of his hip flexors and ankle. We still see him do a slight ankle flexion in the left foot every now and then. No new movements beyond that. The feet are still very floppy. The hip flexors are still tight – he likes his legs up in front of him, not stretched down. While hard to tell with babies this young, there doesn’t seem to be much movement or strength of the hamstrings either.
She ended the session with a few more head control encouragement activities, plus a minute on his belly, and that was it. He was about done anyhow! I was happy that the work she did today was gentle and simple. It didn’t feel “beyond” his current abilities in any way. It didn’t feel forced or over-structured. It was almost as if she was simply aiding his body to relax so he could focus on movement in his own way.
We have another appointment in two weeks, the same day we have a check-in from the treadmill study crew. That same week we also have our first ABM appointment (Anat Baniel Method). (You can read more about both of those items here and an in-depth piece on the treadmill study here.) Should be an interesting week.
I will leave you with one more picture. Here is Colten in his new play yard. Because the TWO we already had were not good enough?! Actually, we purchased this for a specific reason – the piano by the feet. We wanted to provide a more dominant draw to using his legs. So while he probably doesn’t feel much on the bottom of his feet, we hope he can feel the vibration through his leg when he accidentally kicks the keys. That vibration, coupled with the musical response, will hopefully encourage more leg movement. More leg movement builds muscle and the impact on the leg builds bone strength. A special thank you to the Randall Family (especially “C” and “Z”!) for their donation, which was used specifically to purchase this for Colten!