Author: Megan Manno, NeuroTherapy Assistant
Working at Plasticity® Brain Centers as a NeuroTherapy assistant has allowed me to get to know so many extraordinary patients with even more extraordinary stories. I first met this patient back in April 2018 when she came in for treatment. She was an elderly woman who had been diagnosed with Stiff-Person Syndrome (SPS), along with numerous other health conditions in the past. She had lived near an island where radioactive gas was being stored, which was likely the root of her health complications. This was a case unlike any I had seen before at the clinic; I was intrigued to see how we were going to help her.
I took her through diagnostics where I found out she was unable to do any of the balance testing as well as being unable to complete some of the cognitive testing, due to a lack of balance, fine motor skills, difficulty keeping her eyes still, and difficulty speaking clearly. Overall, my impression was that this patient sought out treatment because her poor quality of life was interfering with her independence. Although her deficits were very clear during the diagnostics testing, the one thing that stood out to me the most was her spirit. She stayed so strong the entire time, holding onto hope that we were going to not only try but succeed at helping her get better. Not once did she hold back or give up and she kept a smile on her face the entire time. This is so exciting to me because I find that the patients who are like this tend to do the best. If you give your all during treatment, you are going to receive the best possible results.
Her goals — which she determined with our team during her exam — were to:
1. Regain her balance
2. Eliminate her double vision
3. Work on her speech
4. Regain left-hand usage
These seemed like very hefty goals to achieve in such a short period of time, but she was determined.
She received treatment consisting of M.A.R.C. rotations, nerve stimulation, complex movements, and cross crawls. By Wednesday during her treatment week, I had a moment in the lobby where I asked her how her mid-week exam had gone. She immediately began to cry and showed me how she could use her left hand by picking up her coffee cup. It was such an impactful moment seeing how in only one day of therapy she went from being unable to control any left-hand movement to being able to lift a coffee cup with ease. How amazing it must have been for her to see results so quickly and how hopeful she must have felt for the future at that moment. She also reported during the exam that day that she could walk up the stairs to get on the bus, for which she had previously been using a wheelchair lift. Once Friday came along, she set a new goal that she was going to walk with a cane for her daughter’s wedding on September 22 of this year.
Over the next few months, she came in every two weeks for 30-minute sessions consisting of M.A.R.C. rotations and nerve stimulation in combination with her at home exercises, which she performed every day twice a day on her own. By her second bi-weekly session, she told us she was walking with a cane during her physical therapy sessions with assistance. By her third session, she came in using her walker instead of the wheelchair. She also let us know that her friends and family noticed how she could use her left hand more, how much clearer her speech was, and how much better her balance was getting. Each time she comes in, these physical and cognitive abilities just get better and better. It has been an absolute pleasure getting to know and work with this patient and its stories like these that make this job and all the hard work worth it.