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Therapy

It's important that you start therapy as soon as you can.  It helps the brain to relearn skills lost due to the damage caused.

Setting goals is essential.  It not only gives you things to work towards, but it also helps you mentally.  Try to be realistic when setting goals; it's worth discussing these with your therapists.

 

Check out the subsections for different types of therapy.  I've also included some details from my therapists.

“You don’t have to be perfect to achieve your dreams.”

Katy Perry

Take a Break

  • My concentration span is about the same as that of a goldfish. I will do one activity for an hour, have a short break and do something different. Even if you have a good concentration span, I suggest changing what you do so you don't get bored. I'll split my day between physiotherapy and occupational therapy, interspersed with half an hour to eat lunch and watch TV. The important thing is not to lose motivation.

  • Don't have a set routine each day. You don't want to feel like you're back at school with a daily timetable. You can always incorporate therapy into your routine, even if it's just going to the supermarket or out for lunch.

  • Make sure you rest and listen to your body. I'm guilty of this and have previously learned the hard way. I didn't research a day out properly and walked too far, resulting in a bruised thigh and ego!

Therapy doesn't have to be traditional.

  • Use your hobbies. I enjoy tie-dyeing; it is suitable for things like ataxia as you have to practise manipulating your fingers and grip. For an outdoor activity, I enjoy doing dog agility with Rosie (even though we are completely useless)!

  • Sports can also help. The gym is perfect for cardio and endurance; Pilates and yoga help work towards rebuilding core strength and improving balance. Think of more unique things such as mini golf, bowling or darts! Do be careful if you attempt the latter!  

  • Board and card games are good from a cognitive perspective and hand manipulation. I have been using Monopoly, Cluedo, Jenga, and Connect Four. Ideas for card games are Snap, Go Fish, Cheat or Blackjack. Even the simplest can help. If you have a dark sense of humour, Cards Against Humanity is great fun (and was an eye-opener for a few of the nurses when I was in rehab).

  • If you enjoy gaming, it works well as an alternative form of therapy. I have a Nintendo Switch and play Nintendo Sports, Mario Kart and Mario Party. These games require using your hands and working on your standing balance. Nintendo Sports mainly works well for this as there are lots of different sports such as bowling and golf, that require you to recreate the movement as though you were playing them for real

"When you have a clear vision of your goal, it’s easier to take the first step toward it.” 

 

LL Cool J

Slow And Steady Wins The Race:

If you have ever heard the story of the tortoise and the hare, you'll understand that it's far better to take things slowly and make steady progress. Rushing things are more likely to result in injuries, delaying your progress.

Setting Goals:

For goal setting, I advise splitting things into short-term, medium-term, and long-term goals. When it comes to short-term, it can be things as simple as opening a bottle of water by yourself. ​For the medium term, while in therapy, think of something fun! I had a trach for six months, had to learn to swallow again and went back to basics with eating. When I reached my food goal, I never thought a cupcake would taste so good!

​If you have something you'd like to do once you're out of rehab, set yourself a goal for that as well. Don't forget about setting realistic goals. I arrived at rehab in August and left in December. John and I go horse racing every March. I aimed to go without walking aids, as I would have done every other year. It was only a few weeks before I realised I had been overly ambitious and that the safest option would be to go in a wheelchair.

Reflect On Your Progress:

When I was in rehab, I remember the first time my therapists took me into town. It was at a local cafe. I was in the early stages of walking, and they had me navigate access into and around the coffee shop. I had just learned to talk again, so they asked me to place the order. It was also my first time eating in public. ​I remember being incredibly nervous, and I felt like everybody was staring at me and judging me. I'm now a lot more confident doing things like this. I still have days where I believe people are staring at me, but it bothers me much less than it used to.

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