Wednesday, May 11, 2016

The Flat Headed Saga: Physical Therapy

If there are angles on the Earth I am sure my son's physical therapist is one of them. Never before have I met such a kind, patient, gentle woman. Which are all the characteristics you want in a person who will be twisting your baby's head so far around that you are just sure it will pop right off at any second.

I'll be honest here. Sometimes Jay loved PT...namely the times he got to play with the new, noisy, colorful, exciting toys. But he also cried. A lot. Basically anytime the focus shifted from playing with one of the aforementioned toys onto doing actually PT exercises. 

We have been going to weekly physical therapy at the Colorado Children's Hospital for over 2 months now. We have been referred to continue PT bi-weekly throughout the duration of Jay's helmet therapy to ensure the complete correction of his torticollis. We LOVE it at children's (which was important because I drove nearly an hour EVERY SINGLE WEEK) because 1) obviously there are amazing pediatric specialists* 2) it is all really hands on for the parents. This is critical because like all PT work, most of the progress is actually made at home. 

**On a side note, I think one of the most important parts of having a positive experience with anything related to your children's health is finding practitioners that you LIKE. If you don't jive with someone, find someone else!) 

But like I said, the actual physical therapy sessions is just a small part of it. Additionally, we do "homework" exercises 10+ times per day. This include a combination of stretching and strengthening that focuses on stretching the tight muscles (affected side) and buffing up those long muscles (non-affected side).  I am proud to report that Jay mostly holds his neck straight these days. He will let it fall to the side if he is very tired, has been sitting up for a long period of time, or occasionally when he sleeps. But he no longer favors the one side. All of our friends and family have been commenting on how straight Jay is able to hold his head--so I know it is working! We are hopeful that this trajectory will continue over the next few months and we'll get that neck straightened out for good (no pun intended! haha. Get it?).

Another important aspect of physical therapy is always positioning him so he has to look away from those tight muscles. I switched the way he sleeps in his crib and the way I lay him on his changer. I always hold him a certain way in my arms. His toys are always hanging on a certain side of his carseat. And I always position myself on his left when we are playing/reading/etc. I also tuck a rolled up receiving blanket under his shoulder if we ever play on the floor to keep his head off that flat spot. It can get kind of tedious, but all these little things really add up.

I am so proud of the improvement we have seen! Our PT and developmental pediatrician assured me that although hard to adhere to this rigorous routine day in and out, this hard work can significantly cut down on the length of time a child is in a helmet. Spirit fingers to that because we want that noggin rounded out a quickly as possible! 

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