Friday, August 30, 2013

Let's Get Physical... Therapy

"Your baby is cute! How old is he?" "Thank you! He's fifteen months." "Oh I bet he's crawling all over the place." "No, actually he's not crawling. Or walking."

I have this conversation a few times a week. No, Parker is not crawling or walking like other littles is age. But Parker has started Physical Therapy. And we are excited about it!
Our pediatrician in Tennessee recommended physical therapy to us at Parker's one-year-well-check because my sweet, happy, curious, loving little fifteen-month-old baby boy has not started to crawl, or pull up, or walk. Our pediatrician was not concerned about this whatsoever during the first year of Parker Bear's life as his growth pattern will differ from "normal" until he is 24 months old as a result of his premature birth.
Although he is not attempting to make himself mobile like other babies his age, our pediatrician called Parker "advanced". She said that babies progress in different areas at different paces. Parker might not be attempting to get mobile but he is certainly the most social baby she has ever seen! She called him "socially advanced".

It's true. Parker doesn't just stare at people. He engages them. He wants to make eye contact and smile and wave and give a high five. He doesn't have a fear or even an indifferent attitude towards people that many babies his age have. Instead he wants a connection with every.single.person he encounters from the waitress at the restaurant, to the girl at the checkout line, to the guy hooking up our cable, to the person in line behind us at the post office.
Yes, he's social. Even perhaps socially advanced. But he's not mobile. And the recommendation for physical therapy is a means of early intervention to ensure we take the correct steps to get our boy moving.
We asked questions. Does he have to crawl before he walks? Should we continue to encourage standing? All of which I address a little further in this post.
Ultimately, Honey and I agreed that physical therapy sounded like the right step. But of course as our Army life goes, we received this news three days before our movers were coming to pack up our home. We weren't going to be able to get an appointment with a therapist in Tennessee! Our doctor sent us along to Kansas with a letter explaining her recommendation.
Armed with her recommendation letter, several cups of coffee hot tea, and one million deep breaths later, I had Parker booked for an appointment with a renowned physical therapy office in downtown Kansas City, a location that is 50 minutes away from our home on Fort Leavenworth.
First Parker and I went to the center, called the Infant Development Center, to meet the director and have a one hour evaluation with the therapist. Parker thought it was playtime and had a wonderful time playing and exploring. Our time was spent discussing specifics about Parker Bear and watching him do some exercises. The therapist will use what she learned from the evaluation to build her plan for our appointments going forward. She recommended that we meet for 30-minutes each week, every Wednesday afternoon.
I feel like this is a good time to get the *sympathy part* out of the way. What do I mean by that? Well as I mentioned earlier, Parker has started physical therapy and we? Are excited about it! Recently as I was sharing this (with someone I hardly know), they frowned, said awww, followed by I'm sorry. I wasn't prepared for this reaction and it caught me off guard. What were they sorry for? Sorry that we are able to find the help we need to get our baby boy mobile?
At first this response irked me. This apology, by an almost stranger, for something good in our lives. Then I realized, people don't know what to say. This person didn't really know how to react because I hadn't yet said if this was a good or bad thing. People need a little help sometimes. So now? I say every time we talk about this new chapter of our lives, Parker has started physical therapy, and we are excited about it! In other words, don't apologize. Don't glance sympathetically over at Parker. Don't tilt your head and attempt sympathy with me. Instead? Give us encouragement! Give us a positive response! And if you have questions, please ask! I realize that this is different. I realize that this is not the normal experience. But it is still good.
Well now that I got that out of the way, let me also answer a few questions about his therapy. These were our questions to the doctor (and physical therapist) and these questions have come up with family and friends.
Does he have to crawl before he walks? No, he doesn't have to. However crawling teaches a lot about balance and coordination. Missing the opportunity to crawl means learning about balance and coordination later - and on two feet - when it is easier to learn about them on hands and knees.
Why is he not crawling? According to his therapist, all babies develop "patterns". The steps he would need to take to start to crawl are not part of Parker's "pattern". His content attitude and happy demeanor have not helped. He is just content where he is.
Does he stand? Parker loves to stand! We will pull him up to play with some of his standing-up-toys and he just loves it! He loves to play with toys standing up next to our couch too. He has very good balance according to his doctor.
Does he cruise? No.
Does he pull up? No.
What does he do in physical therapy? As you can see in some of the pictures, he practices building strength in his arms and his core. He is beginning to learn new "patterns" which will lead to crawling, scooting, whatever eventually becomes his mobile method.
Is therapy uncomfortable? No! Honestly I was afraid that it was going to be uncomfortable or even painful but it is neither! Parker thinks that therapy time is play time and it is wonderful! He doesn't really know that he is "working". His therapist is so tender and loving with him too. I am so pleased with how she handles us!
So what's next? We will continue to attend our weekly therapy sessions. Parker's progress is being monitored by his physical therapist. We will do our "homework" at home. And then we'll see what happens.

Thank you for reading and for supporting us!


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13 comments:

  1. What a great post, Nicole! We just finished and graduated from PT this week with Greyson and I could have cried saying good-bye to our therapist as she has been a rock for us the past year to get Greyson crawling and then walking. We LOVED our PT time and the exercises to practice at home were so beneficial. When Greyson started crawling last September it happened out of no where and I started crying happy tears. Parker will be crawling and walking in no time and it will be a fun new chapter. Enjoy your PT time and the extra play time for Parker!

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    1. Oh Rachael I'm teary reading this! I love hearing your story and want to know more! I'd love to talk to you about your experiences with this same thing with Greyson! We just love Mrs Erin, Parker's PT too, she is so wonderful with us both. I'd love to know how old Greyson was when you all started therapy. Yes, it is such a wonderful time for us! Thank you so much for reading and sharing!!

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    2. Shoot me an email and we can chat more! I know exactly where you are at! My email is rachaelsbrown@hotmail.com!

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    3. I was going to intervene and say "Talk to Rachael! She definitely knows what you're going through!" SO good to have Mama support from Moms who've been there! Excited for your new adventure and if he's anything like my boy....get ready: Once they start moving? They don't stop ;-)

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    4. Thank you so much Tammy!! I am so excited to have her as a friend during this journey.

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  2. My P Bear will be crawling and up and moving in no time. Actually, come to think of it, I am A OKAY with him staying put. I'm not ready for him or C to grow up just yet!

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    1. I know what you mean! Part of me is ok with him still staying a "baby" as long as possible! They are only this small for such a short time and then they walk the rest of their lives!! I'm not ready for Connor to turn 10-months. It's too fast!

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  3. With Parker being so social, I bet he's loving all the time to socialize! PT is going to be great for him :) My dad's a PT and he is always trying to work with Bug. And she loves it!

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    1. Yes, he is, ha! He thinks it is social hour. How wonderful that your dad in a PT! I bet he is super helpful with these early stages in that sweet girls life!!

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  4. That's awesome that he is getting some PT to help him get mobile! What is that exercise they are performing on the ball?

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    1. Thanks Sarah! He is learning to put weight on his arms. Using the ball we can angle him to not put too much weight on his arms. It is all so interesting!

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  5. So excited for Parker! PT is going to be wonderful and having such loving and supportive parents is going to help him succeed even faster.

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    1. Thank you so much Lindsay! We enjoy doing the homework with him and get so excited when something "clicks"!!

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