It’s been several months since my last post; I apologize for anyone that has been waiting for an update. The reason why I haven’t been posting so often is because Sherrin’s injury has become my normal life and it’s hard to give updates on something that is just a part of daily life for you. However, there are a few new changes and things coming in the near future.
Sherrin will be getting a surgery next month on her feet. This will actually be only her second surgery since the accident. She hasn’t had a surgery since December 2012 when the Baclofen pump was inserted on her spine. Her feet are a huge part of her recovery process. As I’ve mentioned on here before a few times, something that often happens to brain injured patients is spasticity. This is when joints like ankles, wrists, arms, etc. are so toned that they don’t get the full range of motion and ultimately prevents patients from walking.
We’ve done a lot over the past 3.5 years to help with the spasticity. This includes the Baclofen, Botox injections, braces, and constant stretching and exercising. These options were all to avoid surgery, but they aren’t working as fast as we want. Sherrin’s feet are the problem. Her ankles are constantly pointed (think: Barbie doll foot). She can’t learn to walk if her feet aren’t completely flat. So, we decided to be more aggressive, and the aggressive answer is surgery. The surgery will essentially cut the Achilles’ tendons to release the ankles from the spasticity and toning. Sher will probably be in the hospital for about 4-5 days and the recovery time will be a few weeks longer. I’ve already taken off work for this (thank you to my job for constantly being the most understanding of my situation) and will be with Sher through surgery and the following days.
Sherrin practicing her balancing on the mat! [/caption]I’m looking forward to the surgery, I think it’s time to stop playing safe and have a ‘just freakin’ go for it’ attitude towards Sherrin. Sherrin is SO excited for the surgery. She thinks that it’s the solution to her immobility and will be able to start walking immediately. I remind her that surgery isn’t a quick fix and will take a while for recovery and rehab. She says she understands that but then I see her write down notes about her excitement. Oh well, might as well give her something to look forward.
As far as therapy, we’ve been working primarily on her core. A therapist told us that the best thing to help with independence is core strength for a brain-injured patient. We do core through several exercises:
• Laying on her back and doing 40 reps of hip raises, hold at the top for 30 seconds, repeat 2x
• Laying on her back, knees bent, opening and closing knees together (I call these clam crushers), 15 reps, hold knees together for 10 seconds, repeat 2x
• Sitting on the edge of the therapy mat so her legs are dangling over the edge with feet on floor, balance with no assistance for 10 to 30 minutes
• Laying flat and rolling, 2x on each side
These exercises WORK!! Her core is so much stronger and she can sit up on her own for up to 20 minutes at a time. The progress on her mid section has made Sherrin so much happier because she can feel the difference. You go girl!!
The past several months to year, I’ve been educating myself on brain injuries and disability rights. I try to keep up to date on research and learn about other people’s stories. It’s been comforting to know my sister isn’t alone in the hell that is brain injury, but it’s even more comforting that more and more people are starting to care about brain injuries thanks to new legislation and box office movies such as Concussion (if you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend). Part of the reason I write this blog is to talk about a topic that I’ve noticed wasn’t talked about in everyday conversation. I like to think that maybe I’m helping even one family out there because lord knows I could have used as much information as I could back when they accident initially happened.
What I’ve noticed in the majority of what I’ve been finding in my research is that a lot of brain injured people, and ESPECIALLY the type of injury my sister has (Diffuse Axonal Injury or, DAI) is that they are often frustrated with their injuries and easily become angry, making them not want to go to therapy and improve.
What sets Sherrin aside from what I’ve been reading is her determination. That girl is a fighter. Her therapists constantly say it, but I’m starting to notice it too. The other day I was working with her wrists and telling her what exercises to do in a certain order (trying to get both muscle and memory rehab in one exercise). She was doing an amazing job. I grabbed her cheeks and said, “You’re there, girl,” and I pointed to her head. I then pointed to her wrist and said, “And you’re THERE, too.” She smiled at me, so proud of herself, but then points to her feet, “But I’m going to be there, too.” That’s one example of what I’m taking about that makes Sherrin different than the majority of brain injury patients. That determination… How does she do it?