Thursday, December 31, 2009

Snow! It didn't pack well for a snowman, but it was perfect for snow angels. The dogs liked it, too. Watching them try to jump over 20 inches of powder was great fun. We made our annual trek up to Delaware for Christmas, stopping at Lake Mattamuskeet on the way to marvel at the thousands of tundra swans, geese, loons and other birds that spend the winter on this 40,000 acre lake each year. We came home on Sunday, and have spent this week enjoying the opportunity to sleep in, watch movies (Kate received the National Parks DVD set for Christmas) and play games. Tim and I took Kate to therapy yesterday, where Tim met Kyle Covington, her new physical therapist. Kevin Caves, the director of the Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center at Duke, watched Kate use a walker and tried to figure out how students in his biotechnology engineering class could slow it down. Many times Kate moves too fast for her own good, and what she needs is a device that senses when the walker is going too quickly and applies some counter force. He wasn't at all sure that they could come up with a workable walker, but if they are willing to give it a try I will be happy to make as many trips out to Durham as they need. The trickiest part of Kate's injury is her lack of balance. She can walk with crutches as long as I am in front of her making sure she doesn't step ahead of her crutch or put it in the wrong position. She can use a walker as long as someone is right there to apply counter force and help her turn. I know I won't be around forever, and I am afraid that the people who help her later in life will find it easier to have her in a wheelchair all day. Wheelchairs obviously have lots of advantages. They can increase independence and help people get around faster. But when you sit around in one all day your muscles atrophy and you don't get any exercise. The people I know who use wheelchairs exclusively get so weak that they eventually need help getting in and out of it. If they gain weight and lose muscle tone they have to use a motorized lift to get into bed, or into the shower. So I guess my New Year's resolution will be to continue to work on more physical independence. I'd better get Kate moving!

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