Physical Therapy

Teddy’s a little behind in his physical development. It’s not directly caused by the kidney failure, but is indirectly the likely result of a combination of too much hospital time, prematurity, and the fact that his body spends so much energy just keeping him alive and growing that it just doesn’t have a whole lot left over for things like crawling or walking.

He’s 14 months, and his one gross motor skill is sitting up by himself. Not getting into a seated position, or getting out of a seated position. But sitting, he’s good at. No crawling, creeping, standing, pulling up. Nothing like that. Sitting. He has, all on his own, gotten better about leaning. The first time the physical therapist visited him, he would not even lean, and absolutely panicked if he started to tip or lean a little. Now he will stretch, stretch, streeeeetch to reach a toy with a high degree of confidence.

Teddy’s been working with a physical therapist through Early Access for about two months now. She comes over every other week and works with him and gives us homework to work on after she leaves.

The first visit, we focused on getting into and out of a seated position. After each diaper change, I diligently roll him onto his side, then bend his legs up to a 90 degree angle, then provide support and pressure in the right places to help lever him up to sitting. This is a skill he has yet to master – sort of. He actually CAN get from laying to sitting. But he does it by laying flat on his tummy and pushing up into a full split, then swinging his legs around. That’s not a great way to do it, but we’re reluctant to take away an adaptive skill he’s developed. He’s so darn proud of himself when he does it, too. One night, he stayed up for HOURS practicing.  🙂  But he has no interest in helping himself get into a seated position the “right” way. None.

He also is still extremely reluctant to lay back down. I think he’s quite afraid of falling. He’ll do it if there’s something between him and the ground – like his sister, or my foot. He’ll lower himself onto the object and from there, slide down to the floor. But he won’t lay down on the floor (even with a cushion), unless I lay him down.

On her most recent visit, the therapist, after watching him for a bit, mentioned that he might need ankle braces (AFOs) as he gets more interested in standing. Part of his problem in moving around physically is that his joints are super flexible. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, but they’re so flexible and loose that it makes it hard for him to be stable. Particularly, his hips are just crazy flexible, and his ankles are, as well. Evidently, you’re not supposed to be able to touch your toes to your shins – who knew?

She recently brought us something called Hip Helpers. They’re like a lyrca mini skirt that’s sewed together between the legs. They keep his legs from getting too far apart. He wears them when he’s having floor time. In theory, they’ll help him keep his knees closer together when he gets into a crawling position, so he can focus on moving forward rather than have to spend so much effort pulling his legs together. So far, he mostly just sits when he has the Hip Helpers on, the goof.

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