Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Fall Update

Hello friends, it's been awhile since we last shared my dad's progress with you, and this blog is due for another update.

My dad's days revolve around his continued participation in the music therapy program through Harvard; he spends his morning skyping with his speech therapist in Boston, working on communicating through musical speech intonation, and continues to engage in conversation with us focusing on the speech strategies he has learned.  In a sense, he is re-teaching his brain to form and verbally express ideas, and music therapy is part of the training process, teaching the brain to first come up with ideas, sing them internally, and then repeat full words and sentences externally with specific musical intonation.  It's been a challenging study, but there have been great improvements in his ability to structure full sentences and more accurately express lengthy ideas and thoughts, even delving into more complex words and verb tenses.  Oftentimes, if he is unable to pronounce a given word, quietly humming out the syllables or intonation will allow him to then state the word without a problem.  He is over half-way done with the study.

More and more, he is allowing himself time for hobbies and personal interests.  He enjoys word games such as Words With Friends and Scrabble (and is quite a formidable opponent).  It's interesting to track his brain's healing process; in the months following his stroke, he could only manage two-letter Scrabble words, whereas now he can compete with any one of us.  At nighttime, he reads Huckleberry Finn.  He usually takes up to a month to complete any one book, and he'll usually read the book through twice.

Walking continues to be a great way he can get out and challenge himself, as well as relax; he tries to walk about a mile daily, but can easily walk more, sometimes spending a couple of hours outdoors on walks.  He recently designed a new brace for himself similar to his most recent one, but with extra support under his foot to keep his toes from curling up.  The new brace allows for more ankle movement and flexibility, encouraging him to strengthen and work his leg and foot muscles.  Victor (Maggie's husband) has also begun to work on leg therapy with my dad, strengthening his quadriceps and hip flexors.  He has just recently starting showing huge improvements in leg movement while lying down; our goal is to get the strength training to carry over to when he is standing up.

My dad's thinking and thought processing continues to improve as he works his way through aphasia, and he tells us that he experiences more mental clarity as his healing improves.

We also have a lovely new addition to the family, an Australian Shepherd named Mowgli!  He's an absolute sweetheart, and so far has managed to stay on my dad's good side.

Also, a little peek at my dad's newfound creativity; I'm attaching a photo of Ned, a character he drew with his left-hand the other night at the dinner table.