Friday, September 27, 2013

September Update.

An update from my mom:

It’s been a long time since we’ve posted on here!

 Last spring, we decided it had been a long time since Geoff had gone to formal physical and occupational therapy sessions. (Although of course he exercises on his own.) We thought it would be helpful to meet with therapists again, so we looked into Courage Center in Minneapolis. It turned out to be a perfect fit! He started going every Thursday and Friday in June, and will probably continue until the snow comes. (It’s a 3-hour drive for us.) Geoff’s therapists there are fantastic, and they love working with him because he works so hard and is able to put into practice a lot of what they are working on.

His PT is enjoying breaking apart his gait and tackling one muscle group at a time. She is trying to get him to lift his hip higher when he walks and work at controlling his knee so it doesn’t snap back so much. He can do these things when he really concentrates now, which is great, but when he’s doing his normal walking there are so many other things for his brain to think about, that it’s hard to incorporate everything. His OT is working at quieting his larger and far stronger shoulder muscle group on his right side so that his smaller, very weak muscles further down his arm have a chance to figure things out and learn to work again. She is designing exercises that help him with this. All of this requires building up new paths in the brain, not just reviving old ones. Building new paths takes a lot of time: not just months, but years.

Probably the most exciting new event is that Geoff has been accepted into a pretty amazing new speech study through Northwestern University in Chicago. They want participants who have regained a lot of vocabulary words, but who still struggle to put them into sentences. He will be doing this about 4 hours/week. It involves massive amounts of testing every three months -- testing his speech, brain activity through MRI’s, and eye-tracking (which is quite fascinating). We just spent a week in Chicago getting to know the research team and undergoing the preliminary tests, and hope to get started with the therapy next week.

 We are nearly done with Rosetta Stone 1, but will probably put off starting 2 until after this research study is complete, in about six months. 

Other speech items that Geoff is hitting hard these days: numbers, prepositions, question words (Who? What? How? etc.), and verb tenses. Again, it’s not a simple matter of “waking up” those language memories, or a quick language lesson. It’s learning them again hundreds and even thousands of times, before the new paths in the brain finally “set.”

 Rebuilding the brain is slow, hard work, but we are finding that it does happen.

"But let endurance have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. " --James 1:4