In the morning, we met with a doctor of osteopathy (otherwise known as a D.O.). If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably never heard of an osteopath before.
So what is an osteopath? Osteopaths have the same amount of schooling as M.D.s and have the same rights in hospitals, but D.O.s specialize in a person’s skeletal structure and take more of a whole body approach. We took Elijah to a D.O. to hopefully help with the shape of his head.
Many D.O.s don’t practice cranial manipulation, so it’s important to find the right one. This is the second D.O. we’ve met. The first was really nice, but she called herself a “bad D.O.” because she didn’t often apply osteopathy with her patients and had no experience with cranial manipulation. She thought osteopathy would help Elijah and encouraged us to find a D.O., but unfortunately didn’t know anyone who could help us. Fortunately, we got a reference elsewhere for an osteopath who did have experience with children (thanks Libby!).
We feel comfortable with the D.O. we met on Wednesday. He has worked with children and one of his specialties is cranial manipulation, which is what we wanted for Elijah.
Hmm, it seems that our D.O. deserves a nickname…Since he was wearing loafers, we’ve decided to call him Dr. Loafer. I think loafers represent the more laid back approach of osteopathy, keeping the whole body in mind. I have to credit Andy for this nickname, since I didn’t notice the loafers. :)
What did Dr. Loafer do during this first appointment? He explained osteopathy and got Elijah’s story from us (which is something we’re used to recounting whenever we visit a new specialist). He manipulated Elijah’s skeleton, which was really interesting. He started with the bottom of Elijah’s spine and ended the session working on Elijah’s head. It was hard to get Elijah to sit still, but he faired well.
It’s a very gentle approach and almost seemed a bit like a massage. Dr. Loafer compared the manipulation to working on a stuck drawer. If you pull on a stuck drawer hard, you won’t get anywhere and will only make the drawer worse. But, if you know the correct place to push and are gentle about it, you can easily get a drawer unstuck. We thought this was an effective analogy.
One exciting thing Dr. Loafer said was that sometimes osteopathy can help with head growth. That is so exciting! Of course, he can’t promise us anything, but I think either way, this therapy will only help him. After his manipulation, Dr. Loafer told us that Elijah has tightness on the top front of his skull (where his ridge is) and the back of his skull is also tight. The thought is that that tightness is pushing down and could be restricting his head growth.
It’s so interesting to me how D.O.s can be trained to feel the fascia on the skull, can move things around to facilitate growth and to help to prevent the skull from fusing prematurely, and to help make sure the cerebral spinal fluid is flowing correctly. It’s another one of those things I don’t completely understand, but I think that it makes sense. I’m just amazed that he can feel all those things. When I touch Elijah’s head, all I feel is a head. We’ll be seeing this doc once every two weeks for awhile, so it’s looking like this busy lifestyle won’t be slowing down anytime soon.
OT and PT
In the afternoon, we met with an occupational therapist and a physical therapist. We’ve had therapy through Early Intervention with the school district since Elijah got home from the hospital, but we are starting additional therapy as well. This way, he’ll be getting therapy two times a week and will get more ideas on how to help his development. We’re really trying to make the most of the HBOT by getting him as much therapy now as possible.
First, we met with an OT. She’s the one who will get a splint for Elijah’s hand (based on the prescription we gave her from Dr. Nice Guy). She’s going to try to work on things that we’re not working on with our Early Intervention OT.
Next, we met with a physical therapist. Shortly before we left for our HBOT adventure, we had an evaluation performed at this clinic by a different physical therapist. She wrote up a report, which had goals for Elijah and a summary of where he was at that time (they put him in the first percent for his age…meaning that 99 percent of kids his age were doing more than he is in gross motor skills).
Immediately Elijah showed off his new skills for this new PT. She laid him down on his back and Elijah immediately rolled over onto his belly and got himself on his hands and knees and proceeded to rock back and forth. Then he moved himself to sitting by himself. The PT was shocked. The boy in front of her was doing so much more than the report said he could. She kept saying, “You’re making more work for me! I’m going to have to re-write all of your goals!” She also said, “Hey, you don’t need me! You’re going to just walk right out of here.” And, “Look at that trunk rotation.” Trunk rotation…one of those things I wouldn’t have paid any attention to if things had gone as they typically do, but now I am amazed at the way he can twist his body.
Later, the PT put Elijah in a walker (a rehabilitation kind, not one you can buy in a store) and Elijah took a few steps…all by himself! The PT who had performed the initial evaluation was in the same room with us working with another child. She walked by and seemed amazed. She said, “Wow, he is doing so well.”
The new PT confided in us that Elijah was doing way better than she expected based on that initial evaluation. She said, “Not to minimize Elijah’s situation, but I thought he was going to be way worse off than he is.” That’s our boy, always proving reports wrong and doing more than anyone would ever expect. It sounds to us that they didn’t expect Elijah to do any of those things for several months.
All in All
Overall, I feel excited about these new things we’re adding to Elijah’s schedule. I know that he will only continue to improve, which is all that really matters. Hope you are all well. Happy Feast of Tabernacles!