Wednesday, April 7, 2010

I can't believe it is April already. Things have moved pretty fast in the past few months. Paul left Baylor in February and no longer is in an all-day neuro program. However, he does have therapy every day and continues to work very hard on his recovery.

Since leaving Baylor, he began working with Karen McCain, a physical therapist at UT Southwestern. She is a big believer in using a body-weight supported treadmill to regain walking and that repetition is the key. The treadmill Paul is using has an overhead harness system that provides partial body-weight support, which gives Karen the freedom to help guide his feet to ensure that he is walking correctly. Prior to this, Paul was practicing walking with a quad cane and assistance from a therapist, which I believe only made him overcompensate in ways that weren't beneficial to him and never really triggered his brain to figure out what it needed to be doing in order for him to walk without assistance.

One thing that I have learned since Paul's accident, as I am sure anyone has that has dealt with a serious health issue, is that medicine is an art as much as a science. And, that brain injuries are like snowflakes and each one is different. There are so many solutions and routes for us take and we have to constantly research our options, look at other cases, and read the latest news on traumatic brain injuries and to always be monitoring whether what he is doing is working for him. It is much like networking when your are looking for a job. You just keep your eyes open and talk to everyone that you can. (Not that I was ever great at networking. That was always Paul's forte but I am learning and much more passionate about Paul's recovery than I have ever been about working.) I am, however, a big believer in the power of forward momentum so as long as Paul is showing any improvement at all, no matter how small, we will keep moving forward, even when it takes us to a few deadends, we always seem to learn something new.

In fact, we came about working with Karen McCain because a friend of Paul's sent a YouTube video of another brain injury patient working with her and, in the video, she was talking about the very same walking techniques that Lisa Ann (our other PT therapist) had been pushing and that I have read about a lot but we didn't have access to the equipment. I contacted Karen after watching the video and she was great, talked with me about Paul for quite some time, and now is doing everything she can to help Paul walk again.

In addition to Paul's physical therapy, he is involved in a speech program through the University of Texas Dallas called the Callier Center. Three times a week, he participates in group therapy and also has one-on-one therapy with speech therapy students who are working toward their masters and certification. It has been a good social outlet for Paul and, his speech also continues to improve little by little. He isn't speaking in full sentences but has gotten much better at getting out one or two words that help him communicate without always having to rely on the Dynavox. This has been a great because he can interact more with Buzz, even if he is simply telling Buzz to "move back" when Buzz is too close to the TV. It is the small milestones that make me grateful these days.

Paul also is back on the golf course, sort of. Each Saturday, there is a clinic, through an organization called RISE Adventures, at Dallas Golf Center off Walnut Hill and 35. It is very secluded and off the beaten path. The first day that we went, I felt sure that we would either find the golf course or were being set up to be killed. Fortunately, we found the golf course and Paul has been working with a golf pro, Gary Pickle. Right now, he primarilly is on the driving range sometimes just hitting while he is sitting in the wheelchair but sometimes standing with assistance. Gary makes custom golf equipment for people who have physical challenges and has made a club, with a special grip, that Paul can use just using his left hand (as he still cannot use his right hand). Gary also has a special golf cart that Paul can drive right onto the course and turn the seat and putt or hit while still sitting. Of course, it is not the ideal situation and the goal is for Paul to get his game back as close to normal as it was but we have to take it slowly and, again, figure out the best way to get there. It is still nice to see him back on the driving range, especially when he is alongside Buzz, who, I have to say, has a pretty good swing for a 7-year-old.


David said...

I also pray to god to get well soon paul...Golf cart Calgary

kyle farley said...

Jerde....It is so easy to see why you were... are... and always will be such a success story, Brother! You're one of the most pro-active, challenge attacking, never give up, folks I have ever known w/ one of the most supportive & driven partners life could have ever given you! I am truly amazed and moved by the Jerde M.O.! I am so glad you are doing the golf thing! Hey... Not sure if you ever knew about Dennis Walters, but he is a fellow Mean Green Eagle Alumni!

Kristine said...

Progress, not perfection. The hallmark of all 12 step programs and a reminder for us all. any progress is better than none. Onward ho!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the update - I think you write so well you should think about writing a book or magazine article about this whole experience. Golf sounds amazing for Paul and Buzz - thinking of all 3 of you - Jennifer McE

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