Jake’s Legs: Preparation for Life

We reached another milestone in Jake’s therapy today since we finally had his physical therapy assessment this morning.  Whenever we’ve reached a milestone, there has been much rejoicing and excitement.  After today, I kinda wanted to kick this particular milestone in the teeth.  It was a hard, but necessary appointment and even though we came away with a ton more to do and think about, I’m glad we went.

The summary that I was handed after the assessment said that Jake is about a year behind in his gross motor skills, which means that the large muscles used for walking, running, squatting, jumping, etc., are underdeveloped.  We already knew that he has hypotonia (poor muscle tone), so none of this is a shocker.  We’ll need between six months and a year of physical therapy to get him  up to speed. 

The process of obtaining the summary took about an hour and a half.  We met with Kate, a lovely physical therapist who ran him through a series of tests and watched him play.  We walked up and down stairs, reached for balls, threw toys, squatted down to pick up a Winnie the Pooh, leaned over to play with a puzzle, knelt at a chair to play with a car, and rolled around on the floor. 

Kate saw that Jake favors his right side, so his left side is weak.  He has no spinal rotation, meaning that he doesn’t sit on his bum and reach to the left with his right hand or the other way around.  His upper spine doesn’t bend very well like it would if he were to look up at the sky.  His knees are very stiff and the joints don’t extend very well.  His hip flexors, the muscles surrounding the hip that are used to pull the knee up, are very tight and don’t allow for good range of motion.

All of that means we are in for a lot of work.  We have assignments to change how he walks up and down stairs, to have him sit in a little chair instead of on the floor which will strengthen his legs,  to roll over and lay on his stomach so that his upper spine gains mobility and his lower spine will be able to pivot, to crawl on all fours without his legs splaying so that his shoulders and hips get stronger, learning how to stand on one leg, and lots of other things.

The good thing is that we can all this while we are playing instead of torturing him for a half hour a day.  Kate told me that the park playground is going to become my new best friend.  I’m really fine with that! 🙂  I’ll need to watch Jake and see when he is playing in a way that will allow for a strengthening exericse.  That will mean lots more concentration and alertness during the day so that I can catch those moments to help him out.  I love the idea of “play therapy” rather than making us both miserable, since physical therapy makes Jake a very unhappy little boy. 

Sadly, Kate’s schedule is full and so we’ll be waiting in line to see a different therapist.  I’m hoping and praying that our new insurance lets us see therapists on two different days.  Going to therapy twice in the same day is a lot for me and may be too much for Jake.  I already want to go sit in a dark room and think for a while and Jake is taking an unhappy nap before we go back for occupational therapy. 

While we are waiting for an appointment to be scheduled, I have a page of things to do with Jake and I’m glad we will be able to gain some ground now. 

The thing that hit home to me today was when Kate said, “We’re preparing him to be a physically healthy 80-year-old”.  For some reason, that put everything we are doing now in perspective.  He might get over this on his own and be “ok” eventually, but I want more than “ok”.  I want him to be healthy, run correctly, to throw a ball without dislocating his shoulder, be able to carry his bride over the threshold of their home, and bend down to pick up his own children.  The work we are doing right now is so important and will prepare Jake for the rest of his life and to make that life healthy, fun, happy and good.

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3 Responses to Jake’s Legs: Preparation for Life

  1. Dottie says:

    I’m thinking the table and chairs we got him should come in handy now for sitting in a chair to play. After watching him at the park the other day, I think he will do very well with his physical therapy. He was really into the slides and climbing. 🙂

  2. Janet Wagner says:

    I think I like this Kate! Being a healthy 80-year-old gives tons of hope. I wouldn’t mind fitting into that category myself! Keep at it – and enjoy the playground.
    Love, Janet

  3. Laura Jane says:

    Hang in there, love. Jake’s going to be the runningest, throwingest, stairclimbingest, ballthrowingest 80 year old there ever was thanks to you.

    PS. See you soon!

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