Tuesday, April 29, 2014

An Unexpected Turn

I would like to take a moment to thank you all for your love, support, thoughts, and prayers. We felt them all last Thursday when we made our trip to Nemours duPont Children's Research Hospital where Liam was evaluated for his candidacy to receive assistance from their Wilmington Robotic EXoskeleton (WREX) device which would provide him with freedom of mobility in his arms so that he could easily feed himself, hold crayons and draw, and wrap his arms around our necks.

Liam was not considered a candidate for the robotic arms at this time. This turned out to be unexpectedly great news. The doctors and therapists (five in all) that evaluated him agreed that he shows so much potential in the progress he has made so far, that they are concerned that the WREX device would only hold him back. It was recommended that we continue the aggressive therapy he has been receiving since birth. They offered tips and advice which would accelerate these efforts. They asked us to keep them updated with photos and videos of his progress and perhaps sometime in the future, he will be considered again for his candidacy for the WREX device once he has reached his expected potential.

In the meantime, the doctor, who is a specialist in Arthrogryposis, and the occupational therapist on her team recommend that Liam gain as much passive motion in his elbows as possible. This means that they want him to be able to bend his elbows a little more on his own. The occupational therapist fashioned an elbow splint to be applied to Liam's left elbow while he sleeps so that it will start bending as well as his right elbow currently bends.

While we are on the subject of great news, the physical therapist examined his use of his new ankle foot orthotics (AFO) and determined that he is ready to be walking any day now. She predicts that he will be walking in them, unassisted, in two months! Before the physical therapist saw him, the doctor had just suggested that he may need a cumbersome leg brace which would reach from above his hips to his feet and help him develop walking muscles over time. Thank goodness that won't be necessary! 

The physical therapist also recommended we no longer use the supine stander which is pictured in an earlier blog post, as at this point, he needs to work on balancing on his own two feet. Furthermore, she suggested we cut holes in a pillow case, put Liam's legs through the holes and let him walk, catching his falls with the pillow case so he can learn to balance himself. Alternatively, we could use a pair of denim jeans for the stronger, sturdier fabric. My husband's stepdad suggested we use Liam's overalls! 

 You can see how ready he is to take off running! 

We certainly feel our trip was worthwhile. Liam was evaluated by doctors and therapists specializing in Arthrogryposis. They took one look at him and knew everything about him and his needs before they examined his joints and body. This is what they do and they are exceptional at it. They would like to continue seeing Liam for treatment and future surgeries to loosen the tendons in his elbows and wrists. They also asked us to consider returning for therapy services on top of his existing therapy services. They see what we see in Liam. Hope for his Arthrogryposis.

However, we do not currently have out of network coverage with our health insurance and continuing treatment with these specialists is beyond what we can currently afford. We are discussing strategies and options at this point and are open to suggestions. We ask that you continue to keep us in your thoughts and prayers. Thank you all again.

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