Sunday, March 13, 2016

Post Treatment Clearness

I have successfully completed my concussion treatment with Cognitive FX, and to be honest, I already miss those guys.  The staff and the other "patients"? quickly became friends of mine, and I miss seeing them every day.  It's strange how quickly you can get used to something, event if it's hard.  I kinda want to go back tomorrow...

This is my group of peeps that went through the same week, with the exception of T-bone, the sweet 10 year old boy who finished and left before we snapped the pic.  They are all amazing.  They were so nice and thought I was still in my 20's.  Haha!

As the week went on, all the therapies grew in intensity and still somehow seemed easier.  It was fascinating!  By the end of the week, I was able to complete tasks I laughed at the first day.  Here are some examples:

Brain Games:  These games started out very difficult to even keep my eyes focussed on the screen with some of the games, but by the end of the week I was able to force my brain to focus.  The games themselves are still challenging, they are meant to be, but I am now able to focus on them so much easier than I was before.  I am supposed to keep working on these daily to continue improvement.

Cognitive Therapy:  The tasks given to me the first day seemed so daunting and near impossible, but by the end of the week I was killing it!  The second day I was able to recall all 15 pictures in the correct order shown to me the day before.  I did it.  Every single one.  Boom!  Then I had to do the same thing with 20 pictures, and nailed that too.  The games got more challenging and at one point near the end of the week the therapist said, "Are you sure you have memory problems?"  YES!  So much improvement!

Neuromuscular Therapy:  The second day, the therapist checked my eyes again and the jumpiness that was there the first day had completely gone away.  "Your eyes are so smooth" he said.  Another big step!  We worked on my peripheral vision and balance with a Bosu Ball and a football.  I had to look straight at him and catch the football without looking at it when he threw it to me, usually from an angle.  He tried to mess me up and trick me, but I was onto him and caught all but one.  That's right. :)  The rest of the week we worked on lots more balancing and strengthening exercises, and lots of focus on posture exercises.  It was very good.  Oh, and the massage was my favorite.  Of course.

Occupational Therapy:  The shape sorting thing got easier, I shaved off about 1/3 of the time it took to complete it at the end of the week.  I got better at the crazy games she had me play that really made me think.  The craziest game was when she would flip 2 cards over and I had to touch the red cards with my right hand, black cards with my left hand, and if there were 2 black cards I had to subtract them, if there were 2 even numbered cards I had to add them together.  Every time there was a heart I had to remove it from the pile, and every time I heard a certain word from the song that was playing I had to turn over the top two cards...after all the other tasks were completed.  Got that?

Dynavision:  On man, this thing is awesome.  It tests so much at the same time.  I loved it!  It's the one thing that really scared me about this whole training, and I loved it almost as much as the massages from Neuromuscular.  Haha!  It tests your peripheral vision and cognitive function at the same time.  It requires you to think fast while focusing on many things.  I got to the point where I was balancing on one foot on a pad, pushing red lights with my palms, green lights with the backs of my hands, and continuously adding numbers as they appeared on the screen.  It was tricky, but my time improved so much!  Here's what it looks like.

So there you have it, my week in a nutshell.  I feel more clear, more quick, and less overwhelmed.  I came home to a house that had been in survival mode for the week (apparently I am more productive around here than I realized) and it's didn't even make me shut down like it would have before.  Woohoo!  Progress!  I just tackled what needed to be done.  It felt good.

Results.  I went from a 2.4 down to a .7...remember that optimal range is between 0 and .8.  This puts me technically within "normal" cognitive functioning.  Although, like my new friend Rett said, "Don't worry, you'll never be normal.  You are a super rocker chick!"  Haha!  No worries people, I'm still crazy old me.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Day 1 - Brain Camp!

Day one went much better than expected.  I walked into Cognitive FX feeling very nervous.  I was on the verge of tears with anticipation of what the day held.  I had no idea what to expect.  I thought I was going to be so frustrated I would want to cry all day long, but I was pleasantly surprised.

First of all, the staff at CognitiveFX is incredible.  They are all kind and gentle as they deal with us fragile little concussed humans.  They have the perfect balance of being patient and kind without being demeaning or making us feel like idiots.  That was a good way to start the day.

First stop for me was going over my results with Dr. Fong.  She explained to me all the results from my brain scan and explained the areas that I lack "normal" abilities.  On a scale of 0-6, where 0-.8 is within normal range, I am at a 2.4, which means moderately impaired.  Could be much worse, could also be much better.  The areas I struggle with most are focus, visual search, visual tracking, memory recall (both short term and long term) and lots more focus.  There are probably other areas too, but I can't remember.  Ha!

Second stop was "Brain Games" where I played on the computer.  These games immediately gave me a headache as I had to focus very intently and tap into my visual skills (which suck) to get the right answers.  That. Was. Hard.

Third stop was Neuromuscular therapy.  The therapist tested my visual tracking, balance, and checked out my neck issues (I have multiple herniated discs, fragmentation that is impinging my C6 and C7 nerves, straightening of the cervical spine, ((which is ironic since that's the only part of my spine that's NOT supposed to be straight and it's the only part of my spine that IS straight)) and most of the discs are degenerative) and he helped work on some of those issues.

Fourth stop.  Hmmm, I can't remember what that was.  Oh yeah, Cognitive Therapy.  This was intense.  I had to play these games that really tested my memory, some card games that I had to also answer unrelated questions while I was playing.  I had to remember details from a paragraph I was to read out loud that was about historical events.  That means I had to remember dates.  Torturous.
I also had to put a bunch of (15) random photos into whatever order I wanted to and then remember the order later on in the session.  I did that successfully!  Although, I have to remember the same order today...not sure sure I'll pass that one.

Then, lunch!  I took the time to check into my hotel and realized just how fried my brain was.  I had a hard time driving there, ended up walking out of the room without my key, and then couldn't figure out where to go to find food.  Once I finally did eat and get back, I was relieved I didn't get in an accident or something.  I'll be walking to lunch today.

Fifth stop was DynaVision.  This is what I was most nervous for.  It's a large board with lights all over it and a blue screen in the middle.  I have to look at the screen and use my peripheral vision to push the buttons that light up as they appear.  This made me dizzy.  The first round was ok.  Then they kept getting harder as I had to do more things simultaneously.  Some of which included reading text while pushing the buttons, pushing the red lights with my right hand and the green with my left, then switching that to the opposite.  Another one had me pushing the buttons while reading words that were missing a letter, I had to decide what the word was and say it out loud while pushing the lights that were flashing all around me.  That was hard.  I'm getting a headache just thinking about it.

Sixth's stop was Brain Entrainment.  This is me sitting in a nice comfy chair with headphones on.  Sounded awesome at first.  Until I realized the headphones would be playing a weird sound that mimics brain waves, mixed with thunder and rain, and my brain was naturally supposed to match the waves of the sound I was hearing.  Not sure I understand that correctly, but it did something crazy to my nerves!  I would get jolts of nerve twinges throughout my whole body every once in a while.  It was nuts.  Only 10 minutes though, then off to.....

Seventh stop was more Brain Games!  They have put together a list of the games I am supposed to work on according to the findings in my MRI.  I played those again for another 30 minutes, and walked away with another headache.

Eighth (last) stop of the day was Occupational Therapy.  This was hard.  First thing was shape sorting.  Like what you have your toddlers do, but on steroids.  That one wasn't bad.  The second "game" was much more difficult.  There were sticky notes on the wall with numbers counting from 1-20.  Half on the right, half on the left, but randomly placed.  My task was to start with one, touch it, if it was on the right side I had to touch it with my left hand while stepping toward it with my right foot, and say a word that starts with the same letter that the number starts with.  (brain explosion) This was SO hard for me.  I couldn't think of more than 2 words that start with T, and there were lots of numbers that start with T, and S and F.  It took me forever, and I'm sure I still repeated some words.  Then I did some things like Scattergories (so hard) and word searches, and short term memory recall games.  It was exhausting!

And now I'm off to start Day 2.  Wish me luck!!