We arrived home late last night from three weeks in Birmingham, Alabama, where Evy underwent Constraint Induced Movement Therapy (CIMT). Evy's left arm was put in a cast in order to make her use her right arm. Each day, Evy would have three hours of therapy, focusing on a lot of picking objects up, grasping, pinching, and strength building. We would then have homework each night to keep building on what we worked on in therapy. She did really well, and never complained about having her good arm casted, even though this meant that she needed help with everything from eating to just standing up from the floor. Mostly, we are all just worn out, and have missed home, our beds, home-cooked meals, etc.
Evy made good progress in the program, but her recovery will definitely be a long-term effort, which is typical with stroke recovery. It is difficult to know how quickly she will progress, as there are often spontaneous improvements, when the brain basically makes a connection to the arm and "remembers" how to use part of it. This has happened before with Evy, when she began to be able to move her upper arm. Evy has not yet regained her grasp, although she did show signs of starting to open and close her hand, it's just not yet something she can do completely voluntarily. We also worked a lot on range of motion and weight bearing. She needs to gain strength in her shoulder, triceps, and wrist, as those muscles have weakened considerably during their time of non-use. That said, she made amazing progress towards recovery. She uses her arm and hand in ways that she never did before. Within two days of treatment she had made more progress than the last year and a half since she had the stroke. We brought her cast home, as well as some specialized braces, so we will be spending lots of time incorporating exercises into every day life. We have orders for a pretty hard-core home program. They trained us to do it all with Evy ourselves so we don't lose the progress we've made and so we can keep sending signals to her brain that her right arm and hand are there and capable of movement. We will be in the cast two days a week at home and reminding Evy to use righty as often as it is possible/appropriate. It's going to be pretty intense.
We enjoyed our time in B-ham, and managed to do lots of tourist stuff, including the zoo, the Civil Rights park and the 16th Street Baptist Church, the botanical gardens, the Vulcan monument, the old Sloss steel furnaces, and the historical district. We also enjoyed the weather, which was in the 70's and sunny most of the time. A bit of a shock to be back in 40-degree weather. We made some great friends at Ronald McDonald House who we already miss as well as getting to see some old buds in their own stomping ground of Birmingham! A successful trip.