Caregiver Mike Kotch
My wife, Lynne, suffered a basilar artery aneurysm rupture in 1999. The aneurism was six centimeters in the y-shaped junction of arteries in the middle of her brain, leading to the brain stem. She suffered sever cranial nerve damage and brain stem compression leaving her with many problems including: ataxia, truncal weakness, right facial droop, dysarthria, dysphonia, dysphagia requiring gastrostomy feedings, and lower extremity weakness. It is important to use these medical terms when discussing the situation because they make doctors and insurance people pay attention to you, and believe you know what you are talking about. When Lynne first came home from the hospital, she had a ventilator, a tracheotomy tube, and a feeding tube, and she needed at least two people to assist her in and out of her wheel chair. At the time, we had two small children, and I was busy running my own machine shop, M.E.K. Machines, which specializes in manufacturing metal parts for industrial cooking and pump companies. We had very active and busy lives, and this incident forever changed our family.
Lynne’s balance was affected, and this made it difficult to use a regular walker because someone had to support her at all times. She tended to fall – usually backwards and to the left. I knew how to keep her upright by pushing her forward and to the right, but this was due to experience. Lynne’s inner ear and balance on the right side no longer functioned. She still has a sensation of falling, but it doesn’t kick in until it is too late. Once on the ground, Lynne could not crawl, get to her hands and knees, or pull herself up alone. Exercising was a problem using the walker.
With the help of Pseudoephedrine and later Redlin, strong decongestants and stimulants, Lynne was able to breath without the tracheotomy, and she achieved more control in her arm and leg movements. In 2002, Lynne suffered a setback and was readmitted to the hospital because of aspiration pneumonia that resulted in dehydration. I was worried that without exercise, Lynne would continue to loose strength and her situation would worsen. It was then that I heard about Eli Razon’s Up n’ Go device. Eli personally helped Lynne and her therapists learn to use the Up n’ Go, and within three weeks of working with the device, Lynne was able to crawl and pull herself up to the couch with supervision. Her strength was retuning, and with it her independence and confidence.
From 2004 to 2005, Lynne worked with a physical therapist every day for up to 4 hours a day using the Up n’ Go. She became strong enough that our 11 year old daughter could help her from the floor to the wheelchair. She could pull herself upright from the bathroom floor by using the grab bar. Even though she is still a wheelchair bound person, she can now stand up by the sink or get something from an overhead cabinet with the aid of the Up n’ Go. She also works with a speech therapist while in the Up n’ Go because it allows for easier breathing. Lynne has not lost her intelligence, but she has to work on her speech because she slurs her words, making her seem brain damaged. The Up n’ Go really improves her speech progress.
Lynne loves the device. She feels much safer. Even if she begins to fall, she goes down much slower, and someone who is as far away as four steps can get to her before she goes down. Lynne loves to get into the device and walk around. She would use it three or four times a day if she could. If Lynne does not use the device as frequently, her strength quickly lessens, and she has much more difficulty transferring herself to and from the wheelchair. In addition, she falls much more often, almost once a day. Lynne’s temperature tends to drop, leading to her problems with pneumonia if she does not exercise regularly.
Right now Lynne’s exercise routine is to spend an hour at a time in the Up n’ Go four times a week. She would like to spend three or four hours in it seven days a week, but without the help of a therapist and with my busy schedule, this is not currently possible. She spends at least 45 minutes walking in the Up n’ Go around the house, making a 100 foot circuit four or five times. She then does exercises going down on one knee, squatting, and pushing back up. Then she goes down to both knees, and pushes herself back to a standing position. She works in a standing position with dumb bells to strengthen her upper body. While using the Up n’ Go, Lynne’s gait pattern is much better, and she does not click her heels together. Her balance improves, and she is able to exercise isolated body parts.
The real value of the Up n’ Go is the ability to exercise and strengthen all parts of a wheelchair bound person’s body. If the Up n’ Go is used to exercise, patients will significantly lower their susceptibility to disease, decreasing their hospital experiences.
This is the greatest device ever invented! It could be a major benefit to insurance companies.
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