Since the beginning of May, Annadelle has been in an intense day treatment therapy program at Thomas Hospital, one of only two hospitals (including Children’s) to offer such program in the state of Alabama. She goes to therapy every single day for 4 hours, although she rotates disciplines (meaning Monday, Wednesday, Friday is PT; Tuesday, Thursday is OT).
Her therapists- Lisa and Jessica- have been such a blessing to us during this time. It is so refreshing to know they have not given up on her. They take a proactive approach to her care and are doing a lot of research in to AFM.
At the beginning of the month, Annadelle was unable to use her quad muscles functionally. We could also not feel a contraction in either leg on those muscles. If you saw videos of her picking her legs up, it was the hip flexor muscles you saw working, not quads.
After working with Lisa and Jessica for almost a month daily, taking advantage of suspended treadmill exercises, the therasuit, and the therapy cage, Annadelle has shown progress. She is now able to use both of her quads functionally and we are also able to feel a contraction on both legs. This is a huge step for kiddos with AFM, as many may use the muscle functionally but be too weak to feel a contraction.
With that being said, Annadelle’s legs are still extremely weak. Her core muscles have improved and she is now able to sit herself up from a supine position. This means we are now able to put her in her room or in the floor for longer periods of time because if she falls over she can push herself back up. She still does not use her left arm for much weight bearing, but Chris and I are going to start constraint therapy at home for about an hour a day to see if that helps her left arm. Constraint therapy is where you block off one limb in order to help the other improve, essentially forcing the weaker limb to work harder. Because her right arm is much stronger, she often opts for the easiest way to do something and just lets her left arm dangle even though she is able to use it.
Her therapists have been working to strengthen Annadelle enough that she can crawl, which is a big milestone for her. Although she isn’t able to bear much weight on lefty yet, she still tries to crawl periodically. While I was cooking dinner the other night, I had put her in her room to play with her Barbie house. A few minutes later, I hear, “Help! Help!” I ran through to her room to find her with her legs crossed under her, face down. She had been trying to crawl closer to the Barbie house. She was laughing and said, “Well, I tried!!!” I wish I could express how proud I was of her for trying something so simple. I never imagined I would take crawling for granted when she was 6 years old, but when she gets to that point I can promise you I will never again take it for granted.
This past Tuesday, I had a meeting with the school after I had requested a special education referral for an IEP. I don’t want to post too much about it because the situation is still ongoing, but I will say the meeting was not as bad as I expected it to be.
I ended up hiring a Special Education Advocate to help me through the process and I’m so glad I did. Our advocate, Deborah Jordan, has been a blessing in that she has helped us to navigate the crazy road of IEP. She attended the referral meeting with me via telephone and jumped in when she felt it was needed. She also helped to explain all the terminology after the meeting and what to expect moving forward.
If you are in a similar situation with IEP, I would highly recommend hiring an advocate.
Annadelle’s referral was accepted, so she is now going through several evaluations. Her speech, vision, and hearing screenings were done yesterday. I won’t know what the results of those are until our next IEP meeting where we will discuss eligibility.
Annadelle has also been visiting a chiropractor that came highly recommended to us. Above are some scans that were completed at the clinic because we had concerns Annadelle’s left leg was now shorter than her right. The left leg is the weaker leg and it is not unusual for kids with AFM to have limb length deficiencies after onset. We also spoke to an orthopedist about this and he suggested we have xrays completed to determine if there was actually a length difference or if her pelvis was twisted.
Thankfully, the problem is not a leg length deficiency- it is the position of her pelvis. Her left pelvis is rotated posteriorly and her right pelvis is rotated anteriorly. To combat this, we have been doing stretches with her and also taking her to see Dr. Alicia and Dr. Sharkey, the chiropractors, who seem to have taken a keen interest in her case. They believe that once her pelvis is properly aligned and her left side of her core has strengthened a bit, it will be much easier for her to walk. Right now we have 52 visits lined up and are going about 3 times a week on top of therapy.
We were also blessed recently with an order for a KAFO (knee ankle foot orthotic) for her left leg and an AFO (ankle foot orthotic) for her right leg. I took her to see Chad (the orthotist) last week so he could cast her legs for molds. He will make the orthotics at his office and call me when they are ready.
I am so stinkin’ excited for her to get her KAFO because I think it will definitely help to practice walking and help her strengthen her core muscles. I have basically been stalking pages of my friends whose kids have or had KAFOs and noticed almost all of them saw drastic improvements in core strength. The hope is that when she is standing with the KAFO locking her leg and providing her more stability underneath, she can focus a little more on the core to strengthen it.
We will see.
As usual, thank you for keeping up with my updates. I know they are few and far between now and there is a lot of information I didn’t include in order to keep the post relatively short, so if you have questions please feel free to ask.
Please continue to pray for our warrior princess, as we are moving at a snail’s pace with recovery. We are still believing and praying for complete restoration of her body.