Stories

Edgar and the School Choir Program

By Kathy Hyatt, PT

July 15, 2006

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When Edgar came to school in the fall of 2005, he was 10 years old. Edgar had regressed significantly in his ability to bear his own weight since the previous school year. With no opportunity to stand during the summer, the results for Edgar were distressing.

I became Edgar’s physical therapist that fall. I decided it was extremely important to initiate a daily standing program for him.

Edgar’s school was wonderful in their response to this initiative. Edgar would be in the Rifton dynamic stander from 45 minutes to an hour, every day. Sometimes the staff would put Edgar in the stander twice a day.

Edgar has cerebral palsy, and is in a class with other children with challenges at his school. He is mainstreamed into regular classes for music and PE, and his typical peers love him.

edgar2The Rifton dynamic stander is the only stander we use for Edgar. We prefer it to a prone or supine stander because it puts him in a natural position, at the level of the other children. And, it encourages head lifting with the support that Edgar gets when his forearms are stabilized. Head and upper trunk control was a priority goal, along with improved weight bearing.

Without the dynamic stander, Edgar wasn’t ever in a position that allowed him to put weight on his own legs, with enough support to maintain good alignment. Now, just being up in the stander gets him in that weight bearing position, helps stretch out the muscles, and strengthens the bones. Edgar wears AFO’s (braces) for support to his legs as well.

Edgar is a very intelligent little guy. We have not been able to access his speech yet, but we’re working with a communication device. Edgar understands things that are said to him, and of course his mother can read his responses quite well.

Doing activities while in the dynamic stander boosts Edgar’s enjoyment of standing even further. He is able to play with switch toys, and in music class, he uses a switch activator to start the music for his friends.

Tom Meyer, Edgar’s occupational therapist, designed and built a modified pencil holder for Edgar to use. Tom says, “Edgar seems to enjoy the pencil holder as it gives him stability when doing pencil and paper tasks.”

Edgar’s improvement in standing over the weeks and months was remarkable. At the end of the school year, I signed out the school dynamic stander for Edgar’s family to use for the summer. Edgar has two younger brothers who also love him immensely.
The whole family was eager to continue Edgar’s standing at home.

Marisela, Edgar’s Spanish-speaking mom, loves the dynamic stander. She tells: “Edgar is doing good in the stander. When his brothers go outside, he likes to go outside with them. He is in the stander early in the morning, before the sun is up. He also likes to play Nintendo or Play Station. He is better today, right now. He is holding his head up. He works on the porch with his brothers, he goes on the sidewalk. He is doing good.”

PT with Edgar has continued through the summer, 3 days a week, on an outpatient basis. His two younger brothers come with him to therapy. With them around, you really see Edgar get going!

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By mid-July 2006, I was ready to try Edgar in the Rifton Pacer. Within 3 weeks, he was starting to demonstrate stepping. I do not believe he could have been successful in his first attempts in the Pacer, without his previous opportunity in the dynamic stander.

edgar4But this is jumping ahead. Back to the school year.

One of the important events of the school year for all the classes and their families is the choir program. This year, there was Edgar in the midst of his classmates, participating like a star performer as the music resounded. He was in his dynamic stander, and with his arms and his head, he was dancing.

 

 

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