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MARTEN'S PROGRESS

Marten's story and his struggle with cerebral palsy
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WHAT IS ABR?


ABR stands for Advanced BioMechanical Rehabilitation and was invented by a Russian called Leonid Blyum. In this section we will try and explain, as parents and in layman's terms, what ABR is for us. For a fuller and more detailed version we recommend that you visit Leonid Blyum's website http://www.blyum.comLeonid Blyum - invented ABR.

Essentially, for us, ABR is our best hope for our son recovering from the damage that has already been caused to his muscular / skeletal development caused by the cerebral palsy; most importantly it is our best hope that we have of him avoiding the significant skeletal malformation that will certainly occur as Marten gets older. Taken at just 13 months of age, you can already see the weaknesses and deformities in Marten's body structure. From the arching of the whole body, typical of cerebral palsy children, to the collapse forward of the head and the concertina effect created by a structure that cannot bare its own weight (see pictures below).

ABR is a home based therapy where experienced trainers will teach you how to deliver a range of very low compression exercises specifically designed to meet the needs of a child or young adult suffering from motor impairment. ABR starts by addressing the fundamental weaknesses of the internal structure of the body from which a whole series of improvements in the motor function of the patient occur.

ABR is primarily carried out by hand in a series of super slow movements that most people watching will mistake as being static. The various movements involve the use of towels, foams and other mediums to ensure that there is no compression of the superficial tissues (skin, bones and superficial muscles) thereby avoiding any mechanical risks. ABR is an extremely safe technique.




 

 


WHAT ABR IS NOT


ABR is not a cure for brain damage; it is not a drug, it is not a massage, it is not physiotherapy, it is not intrusive, and it is not a surgical procedure. Above all, for parents of cerebral children, it is not an easy option and it won't deliver over-night! Yes, it will take hours of your time; you will need to keep at it on a daily basis for years to come. But we are parents of cerebral palsy children, that is a lifetime commitment, and no matter what we do, not a single day will pass without us having to deal with the effects of our children having cerebral palsy!


WHAT ABR HAS DONE FOR US SO FAR


Again, these are our experiences and ours alone. Indeed, our friends in Belgium have been pleasantly surprised by the benefits that Marten has experienced so early in his therapy.

A. 48 hours after starting ABR Marten started to sleep at night - through the night. Until that point Marten had been at home 8 months; in that time he had slept through the night twice - the two nights immediately after being started on a muscle relaxing drug. Now he sleeps through 2 nights out of 3 and his sleep generally is of better quality.


B. He is more relaxed. Gone is the incessant crying, the unhappiness, the reactions that looked like stomach cramps. Now he is much happpier; his Grandpa calls him "Smiler"!

C. When Marten left hospital he was on 0.3 litres of oxygen an hour; he had remained on that amount for 8 months. After 4 weeks of ABR he came off oxygen altogether (with the exclusion of the time he had pneumonia). Started weaning Marten off oxygen on Monday 6/2/12, came completely off oxygen at 5:00am on Monday 20th February 2012.

D. Previously, Marten used to arch his body many times every day; he would also throw his hands around wildly much of the time. Two months later, the arching has dramatically reduced and the uncontrolled arm movements are much less violent.

E. Head control is fundamental to any child developing. We recognise that it will be many months of hard work before Marten starts to have any meaningful control of his head, however, we have also noticed that the frequency with which Marten's head flops forward has reduced and when his head does flop downwards it tends to do so in a more "controlled" manner; he seems able to arrest the fall slightly.

F. Marten has now established lateral control of his head movements and now has the first signs of his neck being able to bare the weight of his head. His head now moves more freely and his neck has lengthened and grown stronger. There is still a long way to go but the signs are encouraging. (updated 29/7/12)

G. Marten now "counts" his fingers and watches as he wiggles his own toes. He has also become aware that he can move his own legs and feet and looks amazed as he does so. (updated 29/7/12)

H. Marten's lactose intolerance has totally gone. While we do not doubt that the Doctor's diagnosis of lactose intolerance was correct we do doubt that the "cure" (of avoiding anything with lactose) was the best option. It is most likely that the intolerance was due to the extreme weakness in the abdominal area due to the cerebral palsy. Hours and hours of strengthening work, using a foam pad and a half deflated pilates ball, has considerably strengthened Marten's abdomen. There still remains countless more hours of work in the region but again the progress is remarkable. (updated 29/7/12)

I. Marten has become much more aware of his surroundings and of those around him. This is largely due to the fact that most of the uncontrolled movement has ceased and that he can now turn to see things when he wants to. Again, this is due to the strengthening works to the core of his body which are the primary target of the ABR therapy. (updated 29/7/12)

J. Another feature of Marten losing uncontrolled movements and replacing them with vountary, controlled movements is his reaching out for objects. This has accelerated in the last few weeks to the exent that this week he stretched out for his favourite toy and dragged it back to him by the handle. (updated 29/7/12)

K. Marten will now pull his head forwards to take a drink from his bottle; he can also pull his head back up if it he loses control of it and it flops forwards or back. He has also started to push up from lying on his stomach and has started to pull his head up for a few seconds when on his tummy with his chest placed on a cushion. (updated 29/7/12)

L. Most children with CP find it difficult to achieve quality sleep for long periods of time. Marten has been able to wriggle himself comfortable for a number of weeks now, however, in the last two weeks he has started to pull himself up the bed to find a new position. Result - he now sleeps longer and deeper. (Updated 29/7/12)

M. 30/8/12, Marten's respiratory consultant remarks on the "nice shape" of Marten's chest. Previously Marten's chest was inflated and the base of the rib cage turned upwards and outwards - most of this has returned to position. (Updated 30/9/12)

N. 17/09/12, Marten's gastro-intestinal consultant discharges him from his clinic as Marten had improved to the extent that he no longer required to go. (Updated 30/9/12)

O. 22/9/12, Marten hold his own head up, straight, without any help or support for a little over 30 seconds - this is the start of his being able to support the weight of his own head, the key to all sitting, crawling and walking. (Updated 30/9/12)

P. 21/9/12, Marten's child development consultant is extremely pleased with his progress, in particular she remarks that the curvature of his spine (scholiosis) has reduced considerably. (Updated 30/9/12)

Q. 29/9/12, Marten managed 8:30 hours on the ABR machine last night waking only once with a wet nappy. This is good news as it means that the machine will be able to work on Marten's chest overnight whilst we all sleep building up his lung capacity and improving the strength of his body's core. (Updated 30/912)


As with all unconventional treatments there will be some who will say that these things would have occurred naturally anyway. Our response will be to simply present Marten's progress, as it occurs, to make the comparisons, and allow readers to form their own opinions.

To see the amazing structural changes which have taken place in Marten's body over the last 22 months of ABR click here.