Shortly after Lila’s first birthday we learned she was approved for arm constraint-induced movement therapy. We were thrilled that our insurance company agreed to cover the therapy and I don’t even want to know the cost.
Constraint therapy involves restraining the unaffected arm to promote use of the affected arm. In Lila’s case, her good arm (the left) will be hard cast for six weeks while she undergoes intensive physical therapy for six hours each day. She will have to learn to move, play and feed herself with her right arm/hand. She has quite a bit of use of her right already, but it’s much harder for her to use and 95 percent of the time she opts to use the left.
I know, I know. This all sounds cruel for a baby to endure, but our therapists tell us that children get used to the casting relatively quickly and the results make it all worth it. As a result of engaging in repetitive exercises with the affected limb, the brain grows new neural pathways. This is what we are hoping for with Lila.
We start the program in January. I thought it was best to start after the holidays when Lila’s a bit older and we have less busy schedules. The therapy program will be much like daycare in the sense that we will drop her off and pick her up five days a week. She will take her naps there, eat her meals, everything. When she wakes up in the morning, we are supposed to change her diaper and bring her straight to therapy for her first activities of the day, which will include breakfast and getting dressed. This will be incredibly difficult, because I’ve never been away from Lila so much in one week. I may spend a few hours a day at the clinic with her as long as I’m not a distraction.
I will document her progress right here. As of October 14, one month after her first birthday, her arm is already stronger than it was when she was evaluated for the program. In the video below, Lila plays with a Samsung tablet and shows off her new skills. Even lifting her right arm above her chest is reason to celebrate.