2 October 2006

Conrad’s therapy took an international twist the past 2 months! As we mentioned earlier this year, we were exposed to a therapy program called conductive education out of the International Petõ Institute in Budapest, Hungary. Conductive education is based on the idea that despite damage, the nervous system still possesses the capacity to form new neural connections with the help of a properly guided, active learning process. Once they graduate from the Peto Institute, some “conductors” as they are called, travel to the US to gain international experience. There is a website where conductors advertise when they are available.  We answered an ad from a young woman named Zsuzsi and brought her to lovely San Antonio to spend 8 weeks with us. Conrad quickly warmed to Zsuzsi and enjoyed the focused attention.

4 hours a day, 5 days a week Zsuzsi worked with Conrad on feeding, voluntary movement, head control and response to simple commands. Conrad can now sit on a chair independently when holding onto a bar. His head drops down but he is able to lift it and hold it up for longer periods of time. Unfortunately, he is still unable stand on his own. However, he can purposefully hold and release objects. He can even lift his hands up from the table (a few inches high). He is also much more vocal. His sounds are more frequent and much louder. Some of the louder sounds even appear to be laughter!

Most of Conrad’s gains were made in eating and drinking. If you recall, previously Conrad could only process small amounts of pureed food. Now, Conrad is eating much more and has also learned to chew and swallow solid food cut up into little pieces. This has opened up a world of yummy tastes including chocolate cake, ham & cheese sandwiches and Grandma’s delicious banana bread. He also drinks 2-3 ounces of juice in one sitting – 3 times what he could tolerate 2 months ago. We feed him 4-5 times a day and we have eliminated one of his “bolus” feeds through his g-tube.

The biggest lesson we learned from the experience is that Conrad thrives with the direct, steady interaction. We will look to replicate the frequency and duration of the conductive educational program with local talent. He will continue with all his routine programs (occupational therapy, school, aqua, etc). And we will work more aggressively on feeding with his speech therapist to keep up the momentum. We are also introducing a student from the University of Texas Health Science Center to the mix. She will work with Conrad on simple movements and fill in the times between sessions to ensure he stays engaged throughout the day. We have focused the past 2 years on range of motion and it is time to turn the heat up on the cognitive front.
Conrad’s main source of stimulation is turning 1 this month. Garrett’s mobility keeps us on our toes but also increases his ability to interact with Conrad. Attached are a couple of pictures of “Garrett therapy”.

Thank you to all who shared kind words in regard to the article on Conrad in San Antonio Express Newspaper. As you are witnesses, Conrad has come a long way and our investment continues to payoff.

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