End ~ Chapter 7

Chapter 7 came to a close on Wednesday, October 31st, as Chris left TIRR Memorial Hermann for home.

I’m amazed with the progress Chris made in roughly six short weeks at TIRR.  He’s able to more readily track objects, movement and people.  It seems like it’s easier for him to turn his head to the right, to look past midline with his eye, and he’s even starting to look up and down with his eye on command (outside of the horizontal plane).

TIRR even had Chris’s vision checked with a brain-injury specific eye exam (finally!!!).  In fact, this is what gave me hope about the TIRR during the admissions evaluations:  they recommended this eye exam without even being asked.  Wow.

Chris is blind in his right eye.  I’m still waiting to hear the complete results from my folks, but it’s absolutely outstanding to have been at a facility that did common sense testing like this as a matter-of-course.  Every other facility shrugged it off, leaving therapists and family to continually guess at the amount of vision remaining in Chris’s right eye, and whether Chris’s brain is reacting to visual stimulation properly.

The Baclofen pump has definitely reduced the muscle tone in Chris’s lower extremities.  I can imagine it’s a relief for him – having your muscles in a state of constant ‘activation’ could be nothing but excruciatingly painful.  Certainly guessing here, but it might make it easier for someone with a TBI to focus, without having that constant muscle tone fighting you, interfering, disturbing your intentions.  Chris is on “pump precautions” for another couple of weeks, limiting mobility slightly (no twisting of the torso, leaning forward past 90 degrees, or resting on his right side, where the actual pump unit is implanted).

The therapists at TIRR are exceptional (did I mention music therapy?!?).  I think we came away with a lot of new ideas going forward – for me, using the laptop and music as a way to encourage Chris to start making distinct and repeatable choices (instead of me just foisting videos and music on him).  We also have some new muscle exercises to try, and maybe we’ll try sitting Chris in a normal chair if we can figure out way to get him into the thing safely (the patient lifts at TIRR are a bit more maneuverable than your average kit).  There are also some nifty proximity switches we might be able to use to start getting Chris to move his head left and right to activate things, and perhaps eventually start making choices with a button or switch mounted to headrest on his chair.

All in all, a pretty damn amazing experience, across the board.  I can’t say how great the people are at TIRR.  The progress may seem small to an outside observer, but to me, it’s finally a discernible leap forward.

We definitely gotta get Chris back to Houston after the Baclofen pump precautions expire…  stay tuned.

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4 Responses to End ~ Chapter 7

  1. Justin says:

    Trying not to cry here guys, excellent news. Thanks so much for the update.

  2. Lisa says:

    This is really just awesome! I’m so happy that Chris is making progress and you all have a lot more knowledge and ideas of what to do. Looking forward with you.

  3. Veronica says:

    Incredible news! This is very cool.
    I keep you all in my prayers everyday, so it’s awesome to hear of such fantastic results! Keep up the great work, Giles family.

  4. MarcO says:

    Hi Robert

    It is great to see some things are going (a little) upwards!
    It is incredible how the situation may vary upon location, even when life is at stake. Location, location, location…
    I have just read this (which you may already have): http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-20268044

    Cheers

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