PHYSICAL AND OCCUPATIONAL THERAPY
DJ was evaluated with a slight developmental delay when he was 10 months old. We started going to see a Physical Therapist named Amy once a week. DJ loved playing with the new toys.
DJ showed little improvement, so we added one day a week of Occupational Therapy to the Physical Therapy when he was 13 months old. His favorite activity was rolling on the big ball with his therapist, Shannon.
The Speech Therapist gave us some great tips on feeding DJ, including how to position him and how to prevent gagging on liquids.
DJ switched from physical and occupational therapy to aqua or water therapy when he was 3 years old. DJ and his mom, Akari, go to the pool once a week for 45 minutes. The temperature of the water in the therapy pool is very warm, averaging between 92 to 95 degrees F. The "swimming" class is supervised by Andrea, a physical therapist from the local hospital.
There are three other kids with neurological disorders in the class. DJ is the youngest. DJ likes singing the "Hokey Pokey" and playing "Ring Around the Rosie." His favorite activity is kicking a beach ball to the other kids.
Andrea also works individually with each child. She helps DJ straighten out his spine and gently stretches his muscles in the water. DJ's mom read somewhere that the resistance from the water helps blind children learn about spatial placement because they can tell where their limbs are in relation to their torsos. DJ tries out all sorts of positions, including being on his side and standing straight up.
With a little assistance from his mom to keep his face above the water, DJ can float on his back or his tummy and kick his own feet. The lack of gravity makes it a lot easier for DJ to move his arms and legs. He loves kicking!
EXERCISES AT HOME
We do a series of range-of-motion exercise with DJ every day. Our physical therapist and occupational therapist showed us some exercises that we could do at home to prevent contractures.
At age 3 1/2 years, DJ still has good head control. He can turn his own head from side to side at will. If we lay him on his stomach, he can lift his own head up and look around, keeping it up for about 10 to15 seconds at a time.
DJ's paternal grandfather gives him a massage every weekend.
PHYSICAL THERAPY AS PART OF PALLIATIVE CARE
We continued to see a physical therapist through our hospice for the last 2 1/2 years of DJ's life. Mary Lou came to our house and worked out some new positions for him on a regular basis. She was sensitive to how DJ's needs changed over time. We had to be
She suggested a few, very gentle, range-of-motion exercises for his feet and hands. She also showed us ways to open up his chest and make it easier for him to breathe. We noted that the new positioning helped considerably to keep him loose and make him more comfortable.
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