Thursday, April 14, 2011

Strength and Coordination

Dad has his second appointment with the occupational therapist today.  After his last appointment, he wasn't sure going again would be very helpful, but I think today helped to change his mind.  Because I wasn't at the first appointment, the therapist shared with me some of dad's results.  His weakest areas are in memory and processing.  He also had a significant grip strength difference between his hands, a 37 lbs. difference. 

The therapist first laid out what he had set as goals for dad to complete in the next four weeks. 

1.  Maintain a regular routine of strength and coordination training for his right hand and arm.
2.  Increase energy conservation efforts.
3.  Become complete independent in all self-care areas. 
4.  Keep track of daily tasks and activities in a notebook.

We went through each goal individually and discussed them.  Mark, the occupational therapist, began discussing energy conservation (goal 2).  And by this, we don't mean light bulbs or energy star appliances.  Many in recovery have a tendency to try to do too much at one time rather than try to space activities throughout the day allowing for breaks and resting periods.  When this happens they tend to operate in peaks and valleys, pushing themselves to do to much and then crashing for hours (or days) at a time.  I've seen dad go through this cycle in the short time I've been back.  The goal here is to operate on more of a gentle wave (think cosine or sine wave) and not peaks and valleys (tangent waves).   Keeping track of dad's daily activities in a notebook (goal 4) is designed to assist with this effort as well.

Since his last visit, dad has become completely independent in his self-care (goal 3).  We don't even have to tie his boots anymore!  Mark was impressed and marked this goal as complete. 

The last 30 minutes of the session was devoted to learning and practicing new strength and coordination activities for dad's right hand.  As the exercises were introduced, I found myself trying each one to check my own reaction and abilities.  They range from squeezing puddy to making finger rings with each finger tip.  Some exercises he was really good at, but others he really struggled with.  He told Abbie and I earlier today that even from the time he was in scouts, he could never make scout sign without pushing his pinkie and thumb together with his left hand.  Dad was able to feel within a few repetitions of these exercises that they would work his muscles. 

After his first visit, he wasn't sure that the games (assessments) would be worth his time.  But I think after today he felt a little differently.  It was obvious there were things he needed to improve on and the therapist gave him concrete ways to do that. 

On a personal note:  I'm glad to be back in Salt Lake with my family.  Melody and I switched places last week while she was on spring break.  Dad has improved significantly while I was gone.  His speech seems clearer and he's awake more during the day.  His balance is improving as well.  I'm excited to see his progress.  Next week will bring a whole new world as we begin radiation and chemotherapy.


  1. It is great to hear of his improvement. We continue to pray for you David, as you start into the radiation and chemotherapy. We love you all. Aunt Jenny

    Glad to hear of the great progress.


  3. Abbie tried most of the assessments herself the week before. I can't wait to visit in a few weeks and see him tie his own shoes!

  4. Dave, Keep it up Never give up Dad

  5. Hi all you! great to read about the good progress Dave! It's amazing how much we take for granted that we automatically do every day without thinking about it. Our bodies and minds are way amazing! We wish you well in the coming weeks with the next steps of your recovery. We send love and prayers. Keep up the good work! Love, Dave & Dix

  6. Hey, I thought about bringing you a Jack breakfast sandwich back from Idaho . . . but we both know it never would have made it!