Sunday, August 9, 2009

ABR Visit 4 Recap

For those of you not interested in the nitty-gritty--just skip down to the before and after photos.
I think I need to say upfront that ABR is relaly in its adolescence right now. There's a lot going on in the Montreal office. The inventor of ABR, Leonid Blynum, has given the Centre his stamp of approval and he's no longer watching their every move. The trainers are now free to do evaluations. He still helps with the development of treatment plans, and views videos of children's progress--he's just not micro-managing the whole affair any more. This is an expected part of opening an ABR center, but it's still a change. There are also some staffing changes going on: they lost their administrative assistant, and one of their trainers has gone on the Argentina center.

All of these things added together to make this particular satellite session a little bumpy for me. I wasn't sure what time I needed to show up, and I got a bunch of bills from the financial office right before we left. To be fair, the bills were old, but I guess with all the changes they didn't get them out to me until two months after the fact. I've been a big fan of ABR, but as I was making the eight hour drive to the satellite, I was feeling very bleh about the whole thing.

I ended up feeling completely re-invigorated by the whole thing, though.

ABR has now put together a very comprehensive manual for each family. The manual is inside a chunky, three-ring binder and is positively full of information. They have lots of theory, complete with pictures, in there. This is great for people like me who are so visually-oriented. They are also giving up handouts that outline all of our exercises.

The best part, though, is that they gave us our first-ever progress file.

They took pictures of Charlie when we first started ABR and they took some more when we were in Plano in May. They put these images side by side to show his overall progress in different areas. Some areas have made great progress--others have made less, but the overall picture is a good one. He's made great gains in his neck and upper body strength. These are also the areas that we've been focused on the most.
We also got our new exercises. We're working on almost his entire back--upper back, sacrum area, and the back of the neck. I didn't include the pictures of his back because the changes there have been very slight. We've also got work to do on his cheeks and the big indentation he has in the center of his chest. Oh, and we've got the friggin' clavicle again. I KNEW that was going to happen. I have a feeling I'm going to spend about a million hours on that stubborn clavicle.

I know that if you've read this far then there's a good chance that you want to know if ABR is right for your family. Or, you're just crazy-curious and in that case, read on with your bad self. So, I'm going to spell it out in brass tacks. What did it take to get these results. As best I can estimate, it took $5600 for the first six months. That's almost a thousand dollars a month and believe me when I say we can't afford that.We've had a lot of generous help from multiple extended family members. It actually hurts me a little just to think about that amount of money, but in the end, I can't stop the ABR. The results have just been too good. We know that in the following years things won't be nearly as expensive, but still. . . I just keep reminding myself that its cheaper than college or a car and people provide those things to their kids all the time.

As far as hours go, these pictures represent about 220 hours of manual time. I did almost all of it in front of the TV, sitting on the couch. Actually, I think there's a permanent impression in my couch from the all the ABR time. An ass-print if you will (thank you, Chandler).

I guess all the changes don't mean anything if you don't get functional change, so I'll also outline the functional changes I've seen in Charlie:
  1. Began being able to commando-crawl independently for several yards.
  2. Can sit in grocery cart although we don't let him because he tries to lick it.

  3. Can sit upright with only a small amount of support at waist level.

  4. Improved vision use.

  5. Began rolling onto his stomach. Can roll in both directions (does have a preference, though).

  6. Sits on his butt as opposed to his lower back.

  7. Rides comfortably in a car seat.

  8. Reaches for items of interest.

  9. Gets into the four-point crawl position (no crawling yet).

  10. Crawls up a step and pulls into a high kneel.

  11. Prop sits for extended periods of time.

So are these things worth the time and money? Every family has to decide that for themselves. For us, the answer is definitely yes. If you any questions about ABR, please don't hesitate.

I think this one speaks for itself--he's a lot stronger and he's not sitting on his lower back any more.

Again, stronger.

Lengthening of the neck from the front and the back. The front looks better, but I've done very little work on the back of the neck. Most of its improvement is incidental.

Decrease in the diamond shape of his torso.

Increased appearance of chin and jaw line.