When our son was 2 days old, he had a stroke. We were devastated. A physical therapist visited us in the NICU. She said that our newborn could make if we worked hard at rehabilitation. We took notes on the exercises and began our journey: PT at 1 week, OT at 6 weeks, and ST at 18 months. The weekly sessions and the home programs helped, but it wasn’t enough. We wanted our son to use his arm and hand. We wanted our son to walk without a limp. But how?
One day, my wife ran downstairs to say she had found a program called constraint therapy. Another mom has posted about constraint induced movement therapy on the CHASA email distribution list in 2004. We began our journey with constraint therapy in 2005. Our son such a trooper at 3 years old. We have a picture of him carrying a bucket with his left hand and smiling from ear to ear during the first week. The weight of the cast affected his gait in such a way that his left leg limp was less!! And the severe verbal apraxia had gone from 2 word sentences to 3 and 4 word sentences in 1 week. Our son was a super star!! Three weeks later, there was so much improvement. We continued to work on our goals and milestones every day and week. We believed so much in constraint therapy that we continued to seek out this treatment for our son’s hemiparesis.
At 9 years old, our child began to have an opinion about what therapies he did. We found a new curriculum and approach at a camp where he has attended for two years, plus this summer, and it has benefited him tremendously. The thing that makes this camp different from other treatment programs is the interaction that the children have with the therapists and each other. The camp is designed to be fun for the child and keep him/her engaged!
We have had excellent results with the use of constraint therapy. Although it is hard work for the children when they are forced to rely on their affected extremity, our son’s experience shows that the therapy can be exhilarating when performed in a manner that is entertaining and engaging. As a result, he has continued to improve, particularly with the increased the awareness, use, and strength of his affected arm/hand. He rides a bike, plays DS, Wii and computer games, climbs a rock wall, can hold onto the zip line handle bars, tie shoe laces with 2 hands and button a shirt. He is our super star!! Another benefit has been his self-esteem and his interaction with other children who have hemiparesis.
We can’t say enough about this type of constraint therapy camp. The therapists have figured out how to combine games and activities with therapy in such a way to greatly increase the child’s ability to perform activities of daily living. We strongly recommend this type of camp to any parent who is searching for a fun and constructive activity this summer for their child with hemiparesis.