I haven't posted anything to this blog for a long, long time – nearly 9 months. Not that I have ran out of the ABR insights to share – it is actually quite the opposite. There have been so many new developments and discoveries in the recent months that I felt somewhat overwhelmed with the rapid pace of the new ideas and understandings. So, frankly I did not really know what I had to start with. The main idea behind this blog's postings is to help you to navigate through the information overload and to add clarity to your understanding of your child's development. At the stage when so many new things sprang up within ABR all at once – I had a feeling that I was more likely to contribute to your informational overload rather than helping you with that extra clarity …
However, for the last couple of months I have been overflowing with the insights I wanted to share but experienced that infamous 'writer's block'. The trouble with writing is the same as with any other skill: once the routine was interrupted – it is very difficult to get back on track.
However, sometimes life lends a helping hand to a struggling writer …
This time it happened in the form of ABR Miracle and Magic combined! I was provided with a true life story that is so incredible that it has to be shared regardless of whatever writer's block I face.
Alright, first of all WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE "MIRACLE" AND THE "MAGIC"?.
Often we tend to think of those two as being very much the same, which is incorrect.
Miracle is about the outcome. Magic is about the process.
Miracle is the result that is radically better and faster than the one that is 'normally' expected by following the 'standard' course of action. 'Miracle' is the case when the 'impossible' becomes real.
Magic, on the other hand, is the process, which is mysterious and not readily understood by following the intuitive or scientific interpretation of how the things 'normally happen' and 'should work' .
In fact, most miracles in life arise not from 'magic' but from the deep understanding and systematic implementation.
Major developmental progress that your children affected by Cerebral Palsy achieve via your ABR work – head control, weight-bearing, expanded movement repertoire, sitting etc. – are true miracles because they are thought to be 'impossible' for a brain-injured child. But do you achieve that by magic? – Not at all. Those 'typical' ABR miracles – including the mind-blowing freaking ones – are the result of your systematic and smart work.
What is this? – That's a miracle, plain and simple. Because a GMFCS Level 3 child is not supposed to improve after the age of 5 … But he does – thanks to the ABR work of his parents. The impossible – becomes possible…
But at the same time – the very fact that one needs to put dozens and dozens of hours of the routine work – somewhat blurs the magnitude of such miracles.
What I want to share today is a different kind of miracle – a more 'obvious' one. The one that happened quickly and unconventionally…
A couple of years back in one of my most popular blog posts: Mind-blowing-freaking-miracle-pelvis-transformation-in-quadriplegic-cerebral-palsy – I've introduced Alex 'The Great' – the ABR wizard PT from Greece responsible for that incredible pelvic transformation of a severely affected quadriplegic child that gave the name to that post.
Well, it is time to bring Alex onto the ABR central stage yet again… With even more incredible stuff.
The X-ray that you see above is the one of Alex's neighbor's broken arm. His neighbor is a young aspiring track-and-field athlete who specializes in long jumps.
Friday, May 24th, 2013 was a routine training session for him until a freak accident happened. Somehow he tripped at the takeoff board and then fell most awkwardly to his side smashing his arm against the wooden edge of the long jump sand pit…
The result was horrible – the larger bone of the forearm (the radius) snapped and his hand became completely disconnected and weirdly twisted. The pain was excruciating but the actual look of a badly damaged helpless arm was even more devastating – upon seeing it dangling and failing to move it … our aspiring 19yr-old athlete … fainted…
He was rushed to the hospital where the X-rays have shown this: A nasty fracture …
The local surgeon did an excellent job of putting his broken bone together under anesthesia, wrapped our athlete's forearm & hand arm into a cast and told him to be ready for screws-inserting surgery on Monday, May 27th, 2013.
Why surgery was necessary and not just a simple immobilization? – Because the gap between the parts of the broken bone was larger than 5 mm – so according to the experience and the guidelines of the trauma specialists the only way for the bone to heal properly was to connect its pieces together by the screws or by a metal wire.
… Allow me a little detour. Many times I've been told: "Mr. Blyum, you are such a surgeon hater!" – Well, let me make it clear – I am not a surgeon hater at all. Surgeons dealing with injuries and emergencies are doing an incredibly valuable and irreplaceable job. Like in this case – a surgeon have shown an excellent qualification by manipulating a broken bone into place. Well done! Was it necessary? – Sure! Was it beneficial? – Of course!.
But – and that's my key point – PLANNED orthopedic surgery for slowly developing and 'chronic' condition – whether it is a "subluxation correction" for a Cerebral Palsy child or whether it is a knee replacement for arthritic sufferer – is an inexcusable intellectual defeat.
An orthopedic surgeon being a chief decision-maker upon the choice of methods, duration of the physical therapy and other non-invasive rehabilitation procedures – is an absolute nonsense! Why? – because rehabilitation & development is about the long-term tissue remodeling – not about the emergency intervention with the screws, and wires, and knives…
But let's get back to our story of an injured athlete…
It is Friday, May 24th, 2013 – afternoon & evening .. Utmost misery and suffering – his arm is swollen, it hurts terribly, he can't move his fingers, and he struggles to find a place to 'park it' in such a way that it hurts the least. He takes the painkillers but they of not much help. Our athlete can't sleep because of pain and discomfort – his troubles mount up. Saturday, May 25th comes – and things are as bad as the day before and only getting worse… Another sleepless night follows – so it is Sunday morning – May 26th, 2013.
That's when our exhausted and miserable athlete finally decides to ask Alex for some neighborly help…
And that's where our story turns around quickly and dramatically – from a misery to a miracle.
Alex starts with the classic 3Q ABR and within 1/2 hour the tortured athlete falls asleep. The session continues for the total of 4 hours – and the results are no less than amazing.
The swelling reduced dramatically, the pain was almost gone, the fingers got movable – and generally life became bright again for a young man :-)
He falls asleep before sunset – sleeps deeply and uninterruptedly – wakes up next morning ready to go for his pre-surgery checkup in the hospital.
That's when he suddenly finds himself in the unexpected spotlight of medical curiosity.
His X-ray shows miraculously fast bone healing – the gap between the bone pieces that exceeded 5 mm on Friday, May 24th, 2013 is down to 2 mm on Monday, May 27th, 2013.
So the orthopedic surgeon in charge – looks very puzzled – but cancels the operation. However, he decides to play safe and makes the plaster cast larger and thicker – as a kind of "protection" move.
At this very time our athlete feels himself pretty good already – nothing hurts, the swelling is gone, he is alert and energetic. So he starts noticing things around him… the other people in the X-ray queue …who are all still very miserable.
An interesting thing about the larger general hospitals is that they draw sufficient populations. And in Cyprus as everywhere in the world they are quite crowded – so patients spend a lot of time waiting in the queues. What's peculiar about the trauma department is that all the people who had their skeletal injuries on Fri, May 24th follow through the same schedule of taking X-rays, changing casts, coming for the checkups pretty much on the same dates. So our athlete finds himself surrounded by his "brothers & sisters in misery" with whom he entered the trauma ward few days ago. And he sees that whilst for him, Monday, May 27th is a good day already – all the others are still suffering badly. They have swellings, pains, limited movements and so on… And they start looking at him suspiciously: "How come that you were one of us on Friday, and on Monday you are so different …?"
Our athlete returns home – and continues his daily ABR sessions with Alex but now lasting only 1-2 hours. In a week – he goes back to his track-and-field club – he wants to get back to training! His coach and his fellow athletes who saw his injury are and did not expect to see him near the training ground for a few more weeks – are all amazed but convince him to play it safe and to wait for at least another week…
2 weeks have passed – it is June 7th, 2013.
He comes back for the next X-ray. THIS TIME – IT IS CLEAR – THE BONE HAS HEALED! –JUST IN 2 SHORT WEEKS ……Without a surgery…
His original prognosis was grim – the surgery for the screws/wires insertion followed by 6-8 weeks in a cast with the expectation of another 6-8 weeks of intensive physical therapy rehab..
No wonder that the team of 3 orthopedic surgeons interrupted their busy daily routines and spend a good 15 min in front of the X-ray viewer – putting all 3 X-rays one after another … They are perplexed? – What the heck happened?
They send him home – insist that he should wear a cast for 1 more week for insurance and tell him to come back for the final X-ray.
Here we are:
Just to get a better perspective – let’s do what the surgeons have done – put the before and after X-rays near each and prepare to be amazed!
A result that happens so quickly that it completely transcends the "normal" and "legitimate" expectations...
However, the X-rays show just part of this miracle – the hidden one, the one that happened inside. But there is another facet of this miracle that is no less important and deserves attention – the visible one, the recovery of the soft tissues.
What are the standard outcomes of prolonged casting and immobilizations that follow the badly broken bones? – The thinning of the arm and hand, the loss of mobility, the deterioration of muscle tissue … These are the reasons why the immobilization is followed by at least several weeks and sometimes even months of physical therapy and rehabilitation.
When the cast is removed – what usually shocks the injured person? – How thin and pale and depleted the immobilized arm or leg looks.
In my other post about the 'broken bones' – 9-valuable-lessons-for-cerebral-palsy-out-of-a-single-incident-of-a-broken-leg – I discussed the case of my son's friend who had his leg broken in a go-kart accident. The video accompanying that blog post 9 Valuable Lessons for Cerebral Palsy from a Single Incident of a fractured healthy leg – clearly shows how much thinner and weaker his leg was after several weeks of being in a cast.
Did that happen to our injured athlete? – Have a look and prepare to be surprised!
2 hands are very much identical! The only way to tell that the Right arm was in the cast is compare the sun tan. The Right arm that stayed in the plaster cast retained its pre-summer color – whilst the left one has already got tanned.
The right hand & arm is fully functional and did not require any rehab or physical therapy!
… A true miracle :-)
I often hear from the tired parents – "ABR is great – but it is so slow.. Improvements take months to take place.."
A true life story like this is a vivid reminder – ABR is not "slow". If anything ABR is very powerful and fast – it is the tissue quality deficit that we deal with in the Cerebral Palsy kids that is so huge that it takes months for tissue remodeling to accumulate and to present itself in an obvious and functionally meaningful form..
I hope that this post is inspirational and will give you an extra incentive to stick to your daily ABR routines, to pay attention to technical elements, to strive to improve your skill – and through this help your kids to go further up on the miracle ladder…
Please share this with your friends and family – they'll have a greater appreciation for your work and will hopefully begin to see the outline of the miracles that you are working on…
The End of Part 1.
ABR Combines Miracle and Magic To Heal a Badly Broken Bone. Part 1. THE MIRACLE.
As you can probably guess – ABR Combines Miracle and Magic To Heal a Badly Broken Bone. Part 2. – is going to be about the ABR "Magic"…
Because the natural question that should puzzle you right now – "How did that happen if the injured athlete had his forearm locked in a plaster cast??" How did Alex 'The Great' manage to do ABR ??
Indeed … that was the case
So you should brace yourself for some…. MAGIC and WIZARDRY :-)