Thursday, January 21, 2010

Back at Baylor - But Not For Long

Paul is back at Baylor Rehab where he was about six weeks after his accident. He had been at Pate for more than a year and we decided a change of venue and environment would be a good thing for Paul at this time. (In addition, the decision had to do with insurance and some assistance we are receiving from DARS, the Texas Dept. of Rehabilitative Services, which is a godsend for people who have received brain injuries and, from what I hear, is unique to Texas).

Leaving Pate wasn't easy for Paul but it was ulimately his decision and he knew it would be a good thing for him. He had become very close with many of the therapists and members of the staff (pictured in the above photo) and felt comfortable, although sometimes bored, being there everyday for so many months. His last day there
was Dec. 23 and, as his family was in town for Christmas, the transition turned out to be fairly easy. He started at Baylor on Dec. 28 and it was quickly apparent that Paul thrives when he faces new challenges and wants to impress new people (some things never change). That said, he will only be at Baylor Rehab full-time for a short time, through February maybe. So, right now, we are looking into some options as to what Paul can benefit from next. Most likely, he will continue with physical and occupational therapy sessions there a few times a week and we'll get additiona therapy for him elsewhere.

In addition to basketball, Paul has been playing table tennis. We upgraded from ping pong when Paul began weekly visits to the Dallas Fort Worth Table Tennis Association's practices so he can use their Robo-Pong. It's kind of like going to the batting cages. The machine just shoots out balls for Paul to hit, holding the paddle in his right hand. The group has been wonderful in working with Paul to try to help him as much as possible. They even took photos of him and featured him on their Web site with a story about him. Pete Lacker came with us to one session and took above photo of Paul hitting the ball while standing, with some assistance. For us, going to table tennis has been a family affair. While Paul practices, Buzz takes a lesson, and I get some exercise by running around picking up all the runaway balls. It actually is quite an experience and, for anyone that likes playing the game, I recommend you come one evening as there are probably 9 or 10 tables set up with people at all skill levels challenging one another for play.

Paul currently cannot walk on his own, although we still see improvements and recently came across a new type of walker that, hopefully, will help him regain that very, very important function. We are looking into purchasing the equipment for him as soon as possible and working with new therapist who has seen positive results with other patients. Although the baclofen pump has helped somewhat with his spasticity and tone, he still fights his muscles contracting and tightening when he exerts himself (walking, standing). Paul is at a high dose of baclofen right now and the doctor increased it last Friday, which ended up being too much for Paul. Throughout the weekend, he was confused, emotional, had trouble verbalizing at all, and was very weak when it came to walking and standing. Monday morning, we were back at the doctor's so that he could decrease the dose in the pump back to what it had been the previous Friday. It has really taken all week for Paul to get that extra medicine out of his system and now seems to be back where he was. Sigh of relief. That experience served as a reminder to how far Paul has come.

In addition, Paul's talking continues to improve too, although still very slowly. It is always baby steps but if he continues stepping, eventually he will get to where he wants to go. He also is getting better at using the Dynavox to spell out what he can't say so, overall, he is communicating better and better each day.

Paul has improved so much cognitively and is becoming more interested in doing the things that he did pre-accident. As you can see from Willie's post below, he has been going to the basketball court and practicing his shooting. He also has been reading more, something that took a long time for him to get back into. The first full book he read was Cormac McCarthy's "The Road," which is kind of a downer as it is about the apocalypse but what he chose to read. I probably would have picked something a little bit more uplifting but to each his own. Other activities he does more and more are painting (he and Buzz have their canvases side-by-side on the wall); working a little bit designing on the computer, listening to music, watching "The Office" (Willie lent us seasons 1-4 so we went on a binge a couple of weeks ago), and playing table tennis. He also still has his sense of humor.

As I said, I am excited about the prospect of this new walker for Paul so I will keep everyone posted on that and as to what Paul's next steps (both literally and figuratively) are after he leaves Baylor. It will be a change for us as Paul has spent the last 19 months in rehab full time but there are many opportunities out there for him to continue working and healing so I am optimistic about what the future holds.

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

He shoots, he scores! :-)

Happy new year!

For the past several months Paul has been going to visit his old basketball gang on Saturday mornings. Although he's still not able to stand on his own, he is able to stand with support and use his left arm to shoot baskets. The first time he went back he shot over a hundred shots and made one. The next week he made two, then four, then eleven. This past Saturday he made 38, and his best week ever was 44! The guys have been giving him lots of encouragement, which of course includes some good natured ribbing. Paul claims next week he'll make 50. :-)

Paul consistently inspires me. Onward and upward!