so what better way to celebrate than with a comfy t-shirt that reads "I Survived Camp Righty"!? Hooray!
The final day of constraint therapy was yesterday, making Camp Righty a total of 34 days but who is keeping track? Today we returned for a final evaluation but Oia was acting as a typical 2 year old and wanted to play with the therapist's pens and paper as opposed to the toys presented for the eval. I will speak for myself though and say that I am pleased with her progress, though seemingly small to most. Every ounce of progress gained now is huge and key to the future capabilities of her right arm and hand. This round of CIT was just the beginning to many years of therapy and practice to becoming a girl with bilateral functions. This will not be our last Camp Righty.
Some things I have learned or already knew but was reminded of during this process:
1. Oia is left arm dominant. That we know. She can play with her left arm OR she can play (kind of) with her right arm but not together. When Lefty is engaged, Righty is generally clenched/fisted and inactive due to 'overflow' and increased tone to the right side. Kids with CP do not have selective muscle control which means when muscles in one area of the body are engaged, the rest of the muscles in the body are triggered and flexed as well. During CIT, Lefty was 'shut down' which allowed Oia the ability to concentrate on right handed movements without the constant overflow. Cast off, now we're back to the overflow.
2. No doubt Oia has improved strength, grasp and control in her right hand post CIT. We see it and her therapists see it. I remember on the first day of CIT, I placed a snack into Oia's hand and asked her to take a bite. She tried. She tried really hard. She had to look at her hand, think, and very slowly tried to bring the snack to her mouth but just couldn't quite get it all the way there. She had to lower her head and lean down to the snack to 'meet it in the middle' at her chest. She did this for two bites before she dropped the snack and realized that the effort was not worth it.
Last day of CIT was a huge improvement. She not only could pick up her own snack now, but she was able to bring it all the way to her mouth to eat it and with little to no effort. When she finished with one tortilla chip, she reached for another. Perfect.
3. The therapies we are doing now are forging pathways for later. I have to keep reminding myself this. Progress may seem minimal where Righty is concerned but it's all about training the brain. When Oia becomes of an age where we can explain to her our goals and she can give input towards those goals then hopefully things will be easier because of what we are doing now. I guess that saying "if you don't use it, you loose it' applies here.
We will continue to work on right handed and bilateral play every day. I will still continue to say "where's Righty" and "use two hands" 18,000 times a day. Thankfully, she is very receptive to verbal cues and that is usually all it takes. We will follow through with CIT's home program and wear her left arm splint for 20-30 minutes each day (if not longer) and for all of our OT sessions. She'll get it. Not now, not next month, maybe not next year, but she will get this. I have all the faith in the world that she can and WILL get this.
Oia, we are proud. Proud of you, proud of your patience, proud to be your parents. Keep up the hard work.