Wednesday, September 21, 2011
Hydrotherapy & Other Exercises
Last week at the chiropractor I learned something about the way a body frame and muscles come together. Jie Jie has some muscles that are atrophied, underdeveloped and/or missing and/or malformed, with poor innervation. To look at her at the park, you'd think she's fine. Put her on a bike with pedals, ask her to try and stand on tip toe or stand on one foot or squat and you'd see she has a problem.
I think that each parent of a child with special needs faces a dilemma of deciding what is "good enough" and what is "reaching the fullest potential." There are so many kids that can't even walk, so what is riding a bike - really? Do we NEED to stand on tip toe or do we just pull out a ladder each time something is out of our reach? Stand on one foot? Why not do as Jie Jie does and lean against the wall to put your pants on each morning?
Let's leave childhood and peek into adulthood - especially older age. How we walk on our feet affects the growth and development of our knees, hips (pelvis) and back. Aging is hard enough with a healthy body, what's it like for someone with a body that didn't start out healthy?
Jie Jie needs to focus on developing specific muscle groups. She moves so well when at play that I didn't realize her limitations until we started specific exercises last week. For example, she can barely lift her head up off the floor when lying on her back with her knees bent. Forget about doing one single sit-up or crunch. She's never had to coordinate her legs in a flutter kick for swimming. She does a bicycle kick instead, which is what very young children do, but usually don't do any more after learning to swim properly. Can you bend your knees and rock your pelvis front to back and side to side without bending over at your waist or rocking your shoulders? Jie Jie can't, but she can learn to do it. Why should she? Our spines attach to our pelvises and we want our hips even so our spines are even, right? Jie Jie needs to make her pelvis flexible so it can move like it's designed to, for the health of her spine.
If you were 7 years old...
and had to learn to do a crunch and other abdominal exercises but couldn't even lift your head off the floor to get started, how encouraged would you feel?
If doing scissor kicks while lying across a small bench made your neck hurt, how many do you think you could do?
Could you do enough every day to make a difference? Would you like it? Would you cry? Would you feel bad about your body? How would you feel about your mama, who made you do this?
With some careful orchestrating, I've helped Jie Jie succeed at her exercises because it was readily apparent that she couldn't do them and felt terribly discouraged about it and in pain. There is no way she can do enough each day to make a difference because she gets exausted and I have to work to put food on our table and can't spend all day doing exercises off and on with her.
So, I hit craigs*list and found our new (to us) hydrotherapy pool!
It's a beauty and the price was sooo right, nearly free. But, I have to pay a bit more for hauling it home and hooking it up (I need a little electrical work done for this). I feel so blessed that a tub of this size came our way so fast. Jie Jie is so small, that if she stands in the center, the water will come up to her chin, at least. It's twice her height across each way and even longer diagonally. The heater works!!! So do the jets and bubbles, but we don't need those except for fun. It looks like it will arrive Sunday and should be hooked up and running by the end of next week.
So, bye-bye bench and hello flutter kicking while holding onto the side of our new "pool," or maybe, eventually, a kickboard while swimming around in a circle. I think that learning to balance on one foot in water is much more fun and easy than trying to do it on dry land. If "swimming" was my reward for shaking my hips back and forth and front to back, I'd sure be more inclined to get it done, wouldn't you?
And mama gets to relax and have a jet and bubble back massage because I can tell you that I'm living with some really bad back pain lately from carrying around Jie Jie's mega-bag (the bag we need to take everywhere with us) and from carrying her, which, sadly, isn't happening much right now because of the pain, and she really needs it as part of our bonding. She misses it a lot and I can see that it hurts her feelings when I tell her I can't pick her up. She knows my back hurts and seems concerned, but that doesn't fill the need inside her to be carried.