In the older child, teen or adult with established body habits, the first step is to restore alignment. In many, this can be accomplished in a few days of intensive work. The first 2 photos show the change in a 16 year old with Spastic Diplegia over 5 days.
The change in his body posture is obvious. Why can it be done so quickly? The key is to understand why the habit persists. From the child’s perspective, the way their body moves is their “normal”. To change, they have to become aware of what normal looks and feels like in their body. Most are too weak to maintain the change in body position and need supportive garments and practice. This is the alignment and awareness piece. Once they are supported in good alignment, they have learn to recruit and strengthen new muscle groups.
But it is hard to work to a goal without knowing what the goal is. “walking normally” doesn’t mean anything to a child with an established maladaptive habit.
Their abnormal walk feels “normal” to them. Mason became motivated for change when he could experience standing and walking a different way and look at his before and after photos.
In his mother’s words, “Mason’s posture improved, he was able to rely on his legs vs. his canes to walk, he disclosed “I have control over my body” on day 2 and we were all able to see how certain strengthening exercises help with certain functions and why. The therapists were able to get him to understand that what he does and doesn’t do will impact his life. He became more responsible, and willing as he saw results and saw the potential to accomplish more with harder work. We saw results on the first day and by the end of the week we are absolutely thrilled and ready to go home and take the “train like an athlete” program on! Exhilarating!
“Mason went home and continued his training with a personal trainer as recommended during his intensive at Step By Step Therapy Center. He had realized what was possible and a year later his is fit, happy and he has made incredible changes in his mobility.”
At the start, Mason scored as at GMFCS Level III. A year later he is at Level II and moving towards a Level 1. This amount of change took a lot of hard work, but the results are worth it. Experts who say that child or teenager has plateaued and needs no more therapy are wrong.
Mason outgrew the therapy offered by the local rehabilitation center, but thrived with the help of an experienced personal trainer.
Pia Stampe, PT offers short-term intensives at Step By Step Therapy Center in Rochester New York. You can read more about Mason and other children and adults at https://www.sbstherapycenter.com on the results and testimonial pages.
In The Boy Who Could Run, But Not Walk, Chapters 13 and 14 give more examples of late change with stories of hard work and great results. My book is available at fine bookstores and Amazon. Canada https://www.amazon.ca/Boy-Could-Walk-Understanding-Neuroplasticity/dp/1988025052
USA and International https://www.amazon.com/Boy-Could-Walk-Understanding-Neuroplasticity/dp/1988025052