Wow! Things have been crazy busy around here. Pete and I continue to work through the constant readjusting of our lives around the stroke. He is in therapy 3 days a week, and is making good progress.
He has developed some significant muscle spacticity or "toning" in his left arm and leg. This means we need to do lots of stretching, which I have to tell you, is giving me a pretty darn good work out! I have been feeling very guilty over the toning, that I have not been working him out well enough since his release from TIRR. There's only so much a girl can accomplish in a day, but this is very important.
Because of the toning, his PT at TOTS wanted him to go see the rehab doctor about having botox injections as muscle relaxers in his hamstrings and biceps. I had no idea there was a medical application for botox, I'm glad to hear it. We went to see Dr. Shah today. Pete was examined by a PT and an OT in the clinic and he did have 3 joints that are within normal limits, his wrist going down is very flexible, his elbow bends all the way up to his shoulder, and his knee will bend enough to put the back of his foot all the way to his bottom. The remainder of the joints are anywhere from minus 10 degrees (his foot at the ankle) to 60 to 70 degrees. I was feeling really crappy about this, but was told that the toning is absolutely to to be expected during the rewiring process.
The PT and OT finished their deal and then waited for Dr. Shah before they got Pete up to walk some. I realized, it was the first time I'd seen him walk. Obviously, I've seen lots of standing, we have standing practice every day, but no walking at all. Now that's a moving experience, although his gait is hard to describe, other than to say AWFUL! While we were there, a woman came in the exam room wearing a suit. She got down on the floor and pushed his heel onto the ground at each step and he did so much better. It turns out she is a representative for a company that has a product called walk aid. This is a medical devise that sends an electric pulse into the calf into the nerve that will cause the foot to lift was you take a step. Can you believe, there's a nerve that actually is responsible for this? So she started hooking him up to this contraption, which she says causes some patients pretty significant pain until they get used to it. I'm thinking, eww, don't like that. Pete tolerated it very well, and she'd hit the button and his foot lifted right up. The purpose of the devise is to retrain the nerve to send the right message to Pete's foot.
I asked Denise (the "she" aforementioned) if she'd ever heard of a company called Bioness and their product. She said yes indeed, and this is very similar but it is a single unit that doesn't require the shoe insert or the remote "control" part. Anyway, we sat for a while and waited for Dr. Shah. Once she arrived, they got Pete up, and she told him to take a step with his left foot, as he did, she hit the control button, and his foot went up so he could move forward, it also meant his foot landed flat on the floor at the end of the step-meaning he would have enough balance to move the right foot. By no means was he doing this with no assistance, or really even minimal assistance, but his gait was absolutely night and day different. It looked like a regular walking gain as opposed to a "please don't fall". It was a pretty good thing to see, you gotta know it. Hearing the doctor and the therapists talk, the devise was helping with one of his walking problems but was showing another to exist. There is a long road ahead of us.
They will continue a trial of this during his PT during the next week. If he does well with it, they will work on getting him one he can use at home. This is not like wearing reading glasses, where you get used to them and can't read without them, I was told this is the more you use it, the less you'll need it. So, we'll see if they can get United to pay for it. If not, while the devise is not cheap by any means, it is not so cost prohibitive it can't be handled.
So, now you have a little progress report. I promise to try to be better about posting. Oh, and if you're still reading, give yourself a gold star!