Eight months ago Alyssa was unable to use her arms. They were clenched to her sides and she didn’t seem to know what they were for. She would not reach out, weight bare or do anything with them. Our therapists from Medway Community Healthcare just kept telling us to make her weight bare and move things far away to encourage her to reach for objects, this was not working as she would not weight bare and didn’t know How to use her arms! She hated her arms being touched and would move out of side sitting. Although our OT from MCH has been helpful in many ways, and trying his best, we seemed to be getting nowhere with actively using her arms. We was at a loss we didn’t know what to do so with Tree of hopes support we brought in a neuro OT. This made a huge difference!
Our private OT Karen explained Alyssa felt unsafe and showed us different ways and techniques of helping Alyssa. She explained to reach out you have to teach tiny increments, by holding her elbow and helping her reach further and further until she could do it alone. She made us finger supports and tried various therapies. Alyssa began reaching out with one hand, she began to accept smaller weight baring and tolerated us touching her arms. Our private physio suggested constraint therapy as Alyssa’s brain was neglecting her left side. The improvements from this were mind boggling, she began to reach and grasp with both hands. So we decided to start trying to teach Alyssa to learn to feed herself again.
It was very hard at first as I had to physically hold a spoon and her elbows and guide her hand into the bowl, then her mouth. With the support and guidance of Karen Alyssa began reaching out for wotsits. She did so well Karen told us it was time to progress her to reaching for one wotsit on her tray. I would guide her hand and she would independently pick it up and put it in her mouth. With her eating from a bowl Alyssa figured out how to pull the spoon into and out her mouth so now I just guide her hand into the bowl.
We wanted Alyssa back on finger food and with the support of our dieticians we got prescription protein free food. Although I could physically feed Alyssa a sandwich I knew she wanted to do it herself. We began with bread, which crumbled so I toasted it. She has done so well this week with her toast. Today I gave her ciabatta and she shocked me by putting her hand in the plate and picking up one piece at a time and eating it alone with no help. I was actually late filming this as she had had a whole plate of ciabatta she had already eaten. She is now grasping her cup as I tip it to her mouth so that will be my next step. This little princess astounds me with her determination and courage and we wanted to share her progress. The video is below.