The Choice Life

Madelena Campbell, far right, participates in an instructional dance class at the SCERA.

So many therapy appointments.

Since Madelena’s bone marrow transplant three years ago, she has done lots of therapy: occupational, speech, cognitive and physical. Right now we’re down to just physical therapy, and I am so glad to see how much progress she has made.

Every so often the insurance requires that we do a review of her abilities, rank how she is either improving or losing skills, and readjust our treatment plan. Today I was talking to her PT (physical therapist) and we were discussing her progress. She has come so far physically. Her walking is more fluid, she isn’t dragging her feet like she used to, and her range of motion is fantastic. She has made great strides (ahem) in her physical capabilities.

She only has two PT appointments per month, and at the beginning of her treatment, I wondered how those two sessions that were only an hour long would make any appreciable difference. But have they ever!

In the beginning, of course progress was slow, and Madelena was reluctant to do any of her exercises. Tori would have her appointments at the same time, and it often seemed like we spent the whole time trying to get the girls to stop giggling and pay attention to their therapists.

As Tori declined, we stopped the PT, as it drained the precious little energy she had, and Madelena started going to appointments alone. She’s got a wonderful therapist who has helped her transition and been patient with her when she was obstinate. He knows just the right way to get her interested in doing her exercises, and is very encouraging when she is overwhelmed. If you ask her about PT (like I just did) she’ll say that she hates it, but she also said that if it weren’t for her PT pushing her to do more and work harder, she’d still be in her wheelchair. Her PT is able to evaluate her, and prescribe new exercises, but he is also very supportive and helps keep her interested in doing her exercises.

What is so incredible about her PT appointments is how their structure relates back to life. She checks in every two weeks, gets feedback on how she is doing, learns new exercises, and corrects the exercises that need adjusting. The sessions are good for evaluation and learning new exercises, but it is the daily work that Madelena does at home that strengthen her and stretch her.

I did not understand this concept at the beginning of her treatment. I didn’t understand how two sessions a month were going to make a difference in her physical abilities. The real change comes from her putting in the time every morning. Her PT’s guidance keeps her going in the right direction. He helps her course correct if she starts doing her exercises the wrong way, and guides her to do more and work harder than she otherwise would. He gives me information and instruction that helps me help her.

There are other things that we do infrequently, but that change how we live our lives on a daily basis. As a family we try to encourage these times for reappraisal and course correction. It doesn’t have to be that often to be effective.

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