A few days ago, I took a break from work to eat lunch alone while I reviewed paperwork (ahem, checked my Facebook) and found myself crowded next to a group of gal pals dining with a baby. The baby looked about 4 months old and was entertained the entire meal by a compostable to-go container, which he put in his mouth, passed between his hands, and wildly shook in front of him. I learned two things from watching this:
1. Babies are interested in the same toys as my dogs.
2. Luella is far behind in the use of her hands and arms.
We’ve always known that Luella could have challenges with her limbs as a result of her brain injury. After she was born, doctors would come in everyday, move her arms and legs around, and tell us with a frown, “Seems like she has some issues with her tone.” When the doctor was out of earshot, we would tell Luella, “I DON’T LIKE YOUR TONE,” because, you know, HILARIOUS.
It’s pretty obvious now that the muscle tone in her hands and arms is causing issues in their use. She has ‘high muscle tone’, leaving her arms very stiff and her hands almost always in fists. This stiffness also causes her whole upper body to become rigid when she startles which, as another result of the brain injury, she does often.
Working on Luella’s muscle tone is one of many developmental activities we do with her each day. In addition to regularly stretching and massaging her arms and hands, we are also doing feeding therapy, core strengthening on an exercise ball, tummy time, sitting practice, two hours of wearing an eye patch, and generally showing her how to do things that aren’t coming naturally.
With help, Luella’s use of her hands and arms will likely continue to improve. Even so, it’s safe to say that this may be one of the areas she needs some extra assistance through more therapy, injections, or assistive devices.
In the meantime, the dogs will be thrilled to get all the to-go containers to themselves.
Health Update: Luella’s latest EEG showed her infantile spasms are still gone! On the feeding tube front, Luella’s oral therapy is moving slowly so we will probably be having a feeding tube surgically implanted into her stomach while she continues to learn. During that surgery, she may also have vision-corrective surgery so that she doesn’t need to go under anesthesia twice. And maybe a nose job, just to make a day of it.