July 27th, 2012

I thought I would do another update from therapy today. I know people continue to ask how Frank is doing and it is often hard to put into words the changes that occur week to week. Physical therapy is all about finesse. Trying to coordinate different activities with the brain is the ultimate goal. Think back to grade school gym class - remember burpees? Frank has been given the task to continue this fun activity today. He starts in a standing position then crouches down to a squat. From there he jumps back to a push up position, pulls back to as squat then jumps to a stand. Try it - seriously they are a killer. Follow that with squatting in a catcher position tossing a four pound medicine ball back and forth. I get tired watching him. He has headed to another section of the gym for agility training - jumping through a five dot series while increasing the speed of each jump.
The goal of these activities is to continue to connect the mind with the body. Nerve pathways are slow to regenerate - think how quickly a bone heals, or how fast hair grows. Nerves take months to extend just a short way. Which means the recovery for nerve damage can be years long. Franks concept of time is that it has already been too long, so he pushes to make his body work faster. He is essentially trying to force the body recovery faster than he can build nerve pathways.

The funny part is that it seems to be working.

I have told Frank several times today that his speech is much clearer. He attributes it to it being early in the morning. Part of that statement is true. His speech is better when he is not tired. He has begun to focus on his speech clarity as his personal goal. He feels that people think he is more impaired than he is because his speech is unclear. The tongue twisters have helped with this goal, but we still avoid the one with that starts with Pheasant Pluckers.

Today the therapists are combining cognitive rehab with physical therapy. He is walking backwards on the treadmill while naming types of candy and treats as he works through the alphabet. Apple pie, banana split, caramel, ding-dongs.... The other patients are helping him out with some of the harder letters. Quite the group effort here at Bethesda today.

I took some video today and I will try to post them later. I hope this gives you a quick glance at where he is today. I expect that next week we will be somewhere else.

And the next week somewhere else. He just wants to be at the finish line. And in his mind the finish line equals working a 10.75 hr dog watch shift with his team.

Soon Mackall. Let's just keep moving forward.

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