Tag Archives: Speech Therapy

Home Again Home Again

One of the first things we did when we returned home to Mt. Pleasant, SC was to interview at-home caregiver businesses to take me to therapy whenever I would have it and provide in-home care. We were not having much success in finding the ideal situation, but, then my buddy Michael Onorato stepped up to the plate. Michael agreed he would take me to therapy everyday and hang out with me in my off time. I was, and still am, very appreciative that my elementary school buddy would do such an awesome thing for me! My parents and I initially went to East Cooper Hospital on September 11, 2014 for a PT, OT and Speech Therapy eval, as recommended by Shepherd Center’s outpatient facility. After my PT and OT appointments we heard the unfortunate news that insurance was no longer going to cover Speech Therapy. After hearing that my heart dropped, but the East Cooper Speech Pathologist, Katie Edwards, was nice enough to give me a free eval while my dad contacted both our insurance case manager at the time and Shepherd’s Pathways. East Cooper’s PT therapist, Suzanne Rodgers, was also nice and told us that she didn’t think that East Cooper rehab would be the best therapy source for my TBI related injuries and specific therapy needs, so she referred us to MUSC and provided us with MUSC’s outpatient therapy’s number.

Walking on the elbow platform walker at MUSC.

Walking on the elbow platform walker at MUSC.

Once we got into therapy at MUSC I was registered with all three disciplines, which were once again covered by insurance, even Speech (thankfully). I started in PT learning how to scoot down a mat, which doubled as my bed, while sitting on the edge and walking on an elbow platform walker, focusing on lifting my left leg fully. In OT I would put a heated pad on my left shoulder’s pectoral muscle to help loosen it up before stretching it and trying to open sealed containers myself. For Speech Therapy I was mostly focusing on the letters my tongue was having troubles producing like ‘K’, ‘G’ and ‘CH’. Unfortunately, MUSC was unable to schedule therapies more than one or two times a week. With my injuries I needed to work as hard and often as I could to achieve the best outcome for my recovery. So one day while I was at MUSC my dad did some investigating and found Roper St. Francis Rehabilitation Hospital who said they could give me all three disciplines three days a week.

Katherine, Michael and me during a PT session

Katherine, Michael and me during a PT session.

I am now attending Roper St. Francis and have been since December 9, 2014 (almost a YEAR!!). My PT is a recent graduate from MUSC, Katherine Bennett, who is all about nuero-cases and has recently gotten her nuero-IFRAH certification. We have been working on everything from isolated muscle strengthening to walking with no support or assistance. I initially started PT for 1 hour 3 days a week, but am now doing 2 hours 4 days a week because Katherine saw my potential and enjoys working with me! My OTs, Tara Murphy and Lindsay Deane, are awesome as well. We are currently focusing on getting more range of motion out of my left arm and I’ve already learned how to put on all of my clothes myself. One of my OTs recommended I should get tendon release surgery on my left finger joints because they want to fist-up and we’ve already tried everything we can do to get them to relax, so I am having surgery to relax my fingers in a few weeks, December 3, 2014 (right fingers crossed). I was released from Speech Therapy at Roper around May 2014 because the therapist ran out of ideas to help me gain anymore speech intelligibility or to help my dysarthria. Since May I started with a few new Speech Pathologists at East Cooper Hospital: JoAnn Fischer, who previously worked with TBI cases in Baltimore, at the Kennedy Krieger Institute; Katie Edwards, the one who had been nice enough upon my return home to give me my initial speech eval; and Kaylen Alford, a recent graduate from App State with her degree in Speech Therapy. I just finished 6 weeks of LSVT (Lee Silverman Voice Therapy) to help get the volume of my voice up to a higher decibel in everyday conversation. And while doing my ‘ahh’s I got them up from 3 seconds while at Shepherd Center all the way up to 19.5 seconds with the help of East Cooper! So that’s my story so far. I will make sure to keep you all posted on big obstacles that I overcome and how my surgery goes on December 3rd!

Stage 2: Inpatient Rehab

First Step

My trunk failing to support me on my attempt to take my first step.

I started remembering what was happening and going on around me 2 weeks after ICU. While at Kentfield Rehab, in Marin County, California, the Speech Pathologist was working very hard on getting me to move my tongue and get some kind of sound out of me, but had no luck. In Physical Therapy I would mostly stand up in the standing frame and 23 minutes was my record while there. I also tried to take a single step but failed miserably, with my trunk collapsing. For Occupational Therapy I would do a board with different sizes and shaped pegs with my right hand because the left side of my body was completely immobile and still does suffer muscle tone. Meanwhile friends and family ran a fund raising party for me back home, Mt. Pleasant, SC, while my mom was staying in California with me and until I got home. After the fund raiser my dad had accumulated $15,000 (Thank you everyone!) and the first thing he did was buy my mom, a traveling nurse, and me first class Delta tickets to Atlanta because they would be bigger seats than coach and way cheaper than renting a private jet. So they took my trache (surgical opening to restore normal breathing) out on April 19, 2013.  Then on April 21, 2013 we then caught a 5am flight to Atlanta to continue inpatient rehab at Shepherd Center.

 

My first full day of therapy at Shepherd Center I said my first word ‘hi’. I then worked on my memory, both long term and short term. Within the first week I was there I did a swallow study to determine how well I was swallowing. I passed my swallow test the first week I was there and was put on a level 1 diet (pureed food) and eventually level 2 (honey thickened liquids and fine foods). Another thing I did in Speech Therapy was practice yelling out ‘ahh’. The typical, healthy, person can yell out ‘ahh’ for 20-25 seconds, but while at Shepherd I could only get mine up to 3.5 seconds tops. In Physical Therapy I was first started on serial casting to get rid of my ballerina feet, then moved on to mat exercises, walking in a platform walker with Bioness (remote estem device), graduated from the hoyer to heavily assisted transfers, and practiced getting into a vehicle for my parents’ sake. Occupational Therapy consisted of arm stretching, getting the first movement out of my left arm, and the FES bike (pedaler for OT and PT that consist of estem).

'Pedaling' my way to the city on the FES arm bike.

‘Pedaling’ my way to the city on the FES arm bike.

While there I got a Baclofen Pump to help reduce tone in my left leg and had surgery in my left ankle/achilles tendon to correct the ballerina feet because the serial casting didn’t help as much as everyone hoped. Graduated 4 months after being at Shepherd and I was then invited to their outpatient facility, Pathways.

Next entry will be about outpatient therapy.