Marla (and Mary and Leo) have had an eventful several weeks since Marla graduated
from the Craig inpatient program, with therapy, outings, swimming, and more! Be sure
to drop by and see the updated Photo Gallery to see pictures!
Marla has been swimming in the Craig therapy pool twice, each of the last two Fridays.
It has proved to be a tremendously positive experience for her. Before her first swimming
session, she was very apprehensive and nervous. She even seemed somewhat sad.
Leo asked Marla if she really didn’t want to swim, and she indicated that she didn’t
want to try. Mary and Leo believe that she remembered having been able to swim
so well before the accident, and worried about not being able to meet her expectations.
However, once Marla was in the water, she warmed right up. She did some upper
body exercises with water weights, some kicking, and finally some strokes of freestyle
and backstroke, using her left arm and kick for power while supporting her injured right arm
with a float. She did several laps! Afterward, she smiled broadly with pride at her
effort and accomplishment. Peggy and Jean, her OT and PT therapists, were
amazed at Marla’s strength and ability in the water. Lisa, Marla’s rec therapist
that works with her in the pool, complimented Marla’s perfect stroke techniques,
and said that she is checked out and safe to go swimming at any facility with
Mary and Leo, whenever she wants to go.
Marla has also spent time working in the therapy gym on each of her full days
of therapy at Craig, on Tuesday through Thursday. With 6 hours of therapy
each day, her schedule is booked! Marla, Mary, and Leo are all exhausted
upon returning home after these intensive therapy days at Craig. But the
hard work is paying off! She has been able to climb a ladder to improve her
hand-eye and hand-foot coordination. After her climb, she looked at the ladder
and asked “How?”, amazed that she had been able to get to the top rung.
Last week, she displayed a very exciting advance. Towards the end of one
of her therapy sessions, Peggy told Mary and Leo that Marla had something
to show them. Marla smiled, and showed Mom and Dad how she could
wiggle the fingers of her right hand slightly, and also could raise her right arm
by itself, from the shoulder. This is very exciting progress, because with the
severe damage to the right arm in the accident, it was not known if nerve
function and motor control would return. This development indicates that
some recovery of these nerves and associated motor control is taking place.
Her frozen shoulder has also greatly improved in flexibility and range-of-motion.
The physical therapist that Mary has been seeing has been extremely helpful
in working with Marla to improve her right arm’s flexibility, and Mary and Leo
have been diligent in working daily with Marla on range-of-motion on her
right shoulder, wrist, and fingers.
Marla has started to wear an eye patch over her injured right eye, to
continue to promote the healing process, and also to help improve
function in her left eye (which does not move properly due to nerve
damage), by forcing her to exercise utilization of that weaker eye.
Marla continues to work hard on her speech therapy, and speech continues
to prove to be her greatest challenge. Her ability to process auditory information
is still limited. She has frequently has difficulty understanding the context and
meaning of what is said to her. However, when accompanied by visual
cues, she is usually able to understand. Often, understanding takes several
tries. Her apraxia also makes it difficult for her to speak and communicate
messages to others. Most of her speech comes from automatic, conditioned
responses, such as Hello!, Good-night, etc. When Marla tries to express a
complex idea, there is a disconnect between the initiation of the idea and the
ability to speak the words. She is working on bridging the gap by using other
means–including drawing pictures. Mary and Leo are working to reinforce word
associations by using flash-cards for many common household objects used
in Marla’s daily routine. In addition, her speech therapist has installed several
speech programs on Marla’s computer, that are helping her to continue to
re-develop her communication. She also is incorporating music into her
communication skills, as she loves to sing along with familiar music. On
Monday of this week (4/21/2003), she and Peggy and Jean spent one of her therapy
sessions outside, singing and skipping! Marla can perfectly reproduce the
musical scale and tones.
Also on Monday, 4⁄21, Marla saw her neurologist, Dr. Yarnell, who has been
treating her ever since her time at St. Anthony’s hospital in December.
He was thrilled at her progress, and was very excited to see her. Dr. Yarnell called
up the SICU at St. Anthony’s (where Marla was treated in the weeks immediately
following her accident), and arranged a visit with Fergie and Laura, and some
of the other incredible nurses that provided devoted care while Marla was
there. The nurses were all amazed and thrilled at Marla’s progress in recovery,
and Marla was excited to meet these wonderful medical professionals that
helped her take her first steps along the recovery pathway.
Wrapping up her Monday, Marla went to visit the Rock-Bottom Brewery on
the 16th street mall in downtown Denver, with several of her friends from Glacier
Peak. They enjoyed lunch together there on the patio in the sun. On Tuesday, Marla
was able to draw a picture of the event to communicate to her therapists
about what she had done over the weekend.
Mary and Leo continue to work very hard, coordinating all of Marla’s medical and
re-habilitation needs, both in and out of the hospital, as well as her administrative
and financial details. The days are very full, with travel to and from Craig, therapy
while at the hospital, and food preparation, medications, and on-going PT exercises
at home. It makes for a very busy schedule. We are very thankful for the visitors
who stop by and share their love and smiles with Marla and her family–the support
continues to help us immeasurably, and we are ever grateful and affirmed. Our
hope and joy in Marla’s recovery continues to grow day by day.