Thursday, April 16, 2009

Independent mobility

I want this so badly for Hannah. All day long, I watch her struggle to get what she wants and to where she wants. She always needs to rely on someone else to help her. Part of me is eager for her to have this independence for selfish reasons: it's hard for Hannah to play on her own for long periods of time because if she decides she wants a different toy, or would like to move to a different spot, she can't.

We've tried to structure the playroom so that it's easy to cruise from one piece of furniture to another and it's somewhat easy for Hannah to navigate her walker through the space, but it's a lot easier for her to ask for help, which she does regularly.

I don't think Hannah is overly frustrated that this is her situation; it's her reality and she deals with it. But when I see Isabelle zooming around from one activity to the next, my heart squeezes and I feel a wave of sadness and frustration of my own. If only Hannah could do that as well.

It's compounded by the fact that in general, Hannah needs more direction and is less able to play for long periods on her own. She's always been like that; even as an infant she was more needy and fussy, whereas Isabelle was like the buddha baby and would just chill out in her bouncy chair or on a rug on the floor, content to check everything out on her own. I'm sure some of this is just a difference in personality and temperament, although I wonder if it would be made easier if Hannah could control her own environment more. I also wonder how much Hannah's brain injury and resulting CP contributes to this.

Miss H has come so far on the mobility front and yet some days it feels like she has so much farther to go...


Anonymous said...

At the beginning of the post I thought you were leading into an equipment decision. But not. It seems.

Is anyone mentioning powered mobility?

I'm a proponent of early power chairs for exactly the reason you express - independence - huge implications for social, emotional and cognitive development.

Does.not.mean independent walking.will.not.happen.

Just saying. Barbara

CP and Me said...

Thanks Barbara for the thoughts.

We have thought about getting H a chair at some point but I don't think it's the right answer for her in the situations I'm describing in this post. Hannah can get from one place to the other with her walker, but it's navigating tight spaces, or non-walker friendly spaces or situations that she has difficulty with. Like transition situations (getting out of her walker and into a chair, or getting onto the floor, or getting up into her walker from the floor) that are the most challenging for her. Once she's in her walker and has ample space to move around, she's good to go. This would not be made easier with a wheelchair; in fact I would think it could be made even more difficult.

We have thought about a chair for endurance reasons but at this point we're committed to building her endurance using the walker and using a stroller for back up, as she's still really small and doesn't mind being pushed and in most cases, would rather get out and walk. But if this doesn't make sense at some point, we'll definitely go for a chair.

And we're also committed to working hard with her on figuring out these transition movements that are so tough, in which she's made great progress but still a lot more to go.

But the chair is not out of the realm of options and I appreciate you mentioning it.