Tuesday, 17 February 2009

ABR

We recently returned from a brief and very busy trip to Sydney, where we attended a therapy clinic for Princess (apologies to our family members there, we simply didn't have time to try for a catch-up!).

The clinic was another chapter in a long journey we began two years ago - that of ABR. Put very simply, ABR or 'Advanced Biomechanical Rehabilitation' is a unique therapy which improves tone, strength and volume of the musculo-skeletal structure in children who have moderate-severe physical impairment due to brain injury.

We began it with Princess when she was just 3yrs old. We travelled to Singapore to learn the therapy technique, which is like a form of compression massage, and since then have been striving to complete many hours per week of hands-on therapy. We also use what's known in ABR circles as 'the machine' (actually a small compressor with bladders attached which are wrapped onto Princess's body while she sleeps) to help deliver the therapy to her in every spare moment!

It sounds whacky, and we were a little sceptical when we first heard of the therapy a good eighteen months before we decided to give it a go. But we wanted to be in the driving seat where our daughter's future was concerned, not at the behest of doctors, or relying on intermittent therapy from over-worked and under-funded service providers. We knew it would be completely up to us to carry out the therapy. We knew it would take time, years even, before we saw results.

And guess what? ABR works. Simple as that. We can say this now, two years in, because we have seen positive changes in Princess' body that were hitherto unpredicted by our 'mainstream' therapists, and certainly never expected by us.

For example, in 2007, just before we started ABR, we had been warned by doctors, surgeons and other therapists that Princess' hips were misaligned to the point of being in grave danger of severe dislocation - this would no doubt cause scoliosis in her spine (which could already be detected) and other stresses on the rest of her body. We were urged to consider radical boney surgery, sooner rather than later. If we hadn't resisted, this painful surgery would have taken place in Jan 2008.

We did resist the surgery. And at an orthopedic hip review last month, Princess' hips, although still misaligned, were not as bad as they had previously been. There's no worsening of the scoliosis. We don't need to go for another review for six months!

In addition to this, until eighteen months ago Princess had a track record of being hospitalized with bronchiolitis a few times a year. Any virus going around would go straight to her chest and bam!, hello hospital. Again. Well, without wishing to jinx anything, I'm pleased to report that Princess has had nary an issue with her respiratory system, or anything else for that matter. She is more robust than ever, her body is filling out, her muscles are gaining bulk where there was none previously. She's a healthy, happy kid!

All this is great, and we believe we can thank ABR for much of it. However, it does come at a price. The clinic fees aren't cheap, not to mention the cost of travelling to the clinics (thankfully we are able to attend clinics in Australia now, rather than having to travel to other parts of the world). Most of all though, it's the investment with our precious time that is the hardest one to make. But we do try hard. And thankfully, we think it's worth it.

NOTE: I feel I need to add that although we have chosen ABR as an on-going therapy for our daughter, we do not by any means discount the work of other therapists/therapies that may also have benefits for her. We willingly accept advice from all our therapists (unless they mention surgery!!), knowing that Princess is constantly learning and growing from their contributions.

1 comment:

Sally said...

Great news. So pleased that ABR has and is working for you, makes all those long hours worthwhile, with the bonus "Healthy happy kid", that what all parents want.