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Success with Stiff Person Syndrome

July 18, 2018

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 when she came in for treatment. She was an middle-aged woman who had been diagnosed with Stiff Person Syndrome along with numerous other health conditions in the past. She had lived near an island where radioactive gas was being stored, which most likely caused damage to her immune system, and was likely the root of her health complications. This was a case unlike I had seen before at the clinic, so I was intrigued to see how we were going to help her.

 

I had the pleasure of taking her through the Plasticity™ diagnostics where I found out she was unable to do any of the balance testing as well as 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 diagnostic 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. Never once did she hold back or give up, and she kept a smile on her face the entire time. I was excited because I find that the patients who are like this tend to do the best because 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 was to first regain her balance, second eliminate her double vision, third work on her speech, and fourth to 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 MARC rotations, nerve stimulation, vestibular rehabilitation, neuromuscular reeducation, and crossed-body synchronized movements.

 

By Wednesday, 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 was able to 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 in that moment. She also reported in the exam that day that she was able to walk up the stairs to get on the bus which she had previously been using the wheelchair lift for. 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 22nd of this year.

 

Over the next few months she came to Plasticity Brain Centers every two weeks, for 30-minute sessions consisting of MARC 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 other people such as her friends and family noticed how she was able to use her left hand more, how much clearer her speech was, and how much better her balance was getting. Each time she comes in it just gets better and better.

 

With two months still to go she is well on her way to her goals. 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 of the hard work worth it.

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