I was able to sit in on 2 therapy sessions today, both of which were focused on activating Holly’s mouth muscles. The first thing that patients learn when they come out of a coma in intensive care is how to swallow again. This is harder than you would think, using some 50 muscles just to be able to swallow. Something we don’t even have to think about and that is seemingly so simple, is in fact very difficult when you have to consciously think about it and try to tell your body how to do it.
Luckily the amazing staff at the therapy centre have just the therapy for this next stage in Holly’s treatment. Using a mixture of ice cold cherry juice and medical size cotton buds, Holly’s mouth muscles are activated through her conscious thought and the cold stimulus. The result is consciously swallowing and trying to gain a controlled use of her voice. In this session Holly was able to consciously produce a sound on two occasions. The afternoon therapy session was also based on the same theory, activating the mouth muscles to react to a stimulus but this time getting Holly to stick out her tongue and use her mouth to hold the cotton bud. These therapies are all about getting the mouth functioning adequately so that Holly can speak and eat again. An aim that I look forward to seeing Holly conquer hopefully in the not to distant future!
Apart from her speech therapy today, Anne told me that Holly had also managed to climb 6 steps in a therapy session with help from her therapist earlier in the week. Her muscles are starting to strengthen more which helps with her movement, she has also said she wants to ride again, and is aware that she is not able to do so until she can sit up and hold her head up alone. This is one of the many motivations for Holly at the moment!
She is also able to spell quickly with her alphabet board, even having spelt a birthday mail to her brother and a mail for her friends on facebook that Anne then types on the computer for Holly. They now also have a much better internet set up so both Anne and Holly are really looking forward to the endless opportunities the internet has to offer those of us on the other side of the globe: Skype, Facebook, emails, youtube, horse news and even horse shows being televised live on the net. It is an exciting time and just the beginning of a new phase for both Holly and her family in what is sure to be a long journey…
It seems that every time I visit Holly she has made new progress and I am always impressed by her sheer determination. The battle this young woman is fighting to get her life back is a journey none of us would ever hope to have to make….
For all Holly’s friends, be sure to keep your eyes peeled on facebook for updates from Holly!
Holly’s website is constantly updated by her brother, the link is below.