March has brought spring and even summer-like weather to Colorado,
and Marla is loving every minute of it. With the temperature regulation
difficulties caused by her brain injury, she is frequently cold–so she
in particular is glad for the arrival of spring.
Marla continues to make strides and progress in her speech and
with her injured right arm, through a combination of hard work,
dedication, and help from Leo and Mary. Leo works tirelessly with
Marla on physical therapy each day, while Mary continues to help
her with speech exercises, interactively and on the computer, where
she is using a new software program called CHAT.
In testing on February 18th, Marla got some good news concerning
her injured right arm. Nerve and muscle testing revealed that she has
retained enough nerve and muscular function to be able to have some
use of the right arm and hand. Currently, the plan is for surgery on her
right elbow, which she lost in the accident, sometime in April. The main
purpose for the surgery will be to remove the excess bone deposits that
have built up in the injured area, a common side effect of brain injuries.
While operating, her surgeons will observe and evaluate her arm to
explore the potential for further action. It is not known, at this point, if it is
feasible to replace her elbow with an artificial joint. Elbow replacements
are very rare in comparison to knee and hip replacements, and are
usually only done on the elderly. Since replacement elbows have an
estimated lifespan of only 10-15 years (not nearly the amount of research
has been done on elbow replacements as on knees and hips), Marla
could ultimately need several replacements. Her orthopedic surgeons
will know more after April’s surgery.
Marla continues to visit Glacier Peak elementary school weekly. After
a recent visit to friend Steffie Brouillette’s art class, Marla returned home
and used her chalks to produce a beautiful rendition of Van Gogh’s
Starry Night. See the Photos Section for a picture of her work.
Her artistic abilities are amazing, left-handed, and is great therapy
for her mind! On March 12th, Marla and Mary enjoyed an evening dance at
Craig in an early celebration of St. Patrick’s day.
During a trip to Glenwood Springs March 20-25, Marla and Mary
took a half-day float trip down the Colorado River. They really enjoyed
the scenery and the wildlife, which included views of the 2nd largest
Great Blue Heron rookery in the State of Colorado. Mary is a big Heron
fan, so she and Marla really ooh’ed and ahh’d at the site of this graceful
and beautiful bird.
Next week, the week of April 6th, Marla will undergo evaluation at the
University of Colorado department of speech therapy for possible
participation in a week-long art therapy program this summer. In
addition, she is still in the process of applying to attend the BIAC
(Brain Injury Association of Colorado) Outdoor Challenge Camp this
July in Breckenridge. We are hopeful and excited for her to get the
opportunity to participate in these programs.
As always, thank you for checking in on Marla’s progress, and for
your wonderful messages of encouragement. Each is an inspiration!