Since the beginning of summer, we've been diligent in her wearing her Dynasplint at night. We started at a very low tension setting, and now we're at 8 (out of 10). She normally wears it on her right leg at night, but occasionally we put it on her left. Without a doubt, this brace has made the biggest difference in her range of motion since school ended. We also brought her new Gecko Stander, with the goal of having her spend time in it daily.
As before, we took driving breaks every two hours and kept Elena's feet supported during the ride. She was energetic and moved well at every stop. We broke up the trip to the beach with a night's stay at our friends' house in NC--always good to see K&A!
I had made some Beach Crutches for the trip. They are made out of PVC, and painted green (Elena's choice). The most expensive part was the 22 degree angle slip fitting; this is close to the angle of the loft strand crutch. I also looked for options to make a cuff, but I didn't find a substrate that was strong and flexible to fit her arm. I do have three sets of extra loft strand crutches (a gift from the children's hospital that just moved to a new space), so I used the cuffs (and brought the rest of them in case the homemade beach set didn't work out).
|Beach Crutches, front view|
|Beach Crutches, side view|
|Beach Crutches v. Walk Easy|
The Beach Crutches didn't really work out; the main reason is the cuff post won't fit in far enough in the 22 degree slip fit, making the shaft of the cuff post too long (so the cuff is too close to her elbow). I could trim it a little, but I didn't have a saw at the beach. Elena also wanted her soft crutch covers on the beach crutches, which I did not allow b/c we'd never get out the sand.
Overall I think the crutches would have been a success with a few tweaks. I'm happy we have a "spare set", as the pins in the crutches we did end up using have rust issues now, and still have sand in them (but not much).
|Spare Crutch set worked well at the beach|
We went to the beach every day except two. We typically set out after lunch (except a morning bike ride) and stayed until dinnertime. No one got a sunburn, and the girls had lots of fun playing in the surf and going deeper with grown-ups.
|Viv gets a tow|
When the kids weren't playing in the surf, they loved playing in a "beach pool". (I spent a lot of time with a shovel each afternoon).
|E waiting in her requested "heart shaped pool" for the tide to come in|
One day, we went out on a sailboat. Elena loved it. We rode the boat to a small uninhabited island, where the shore was littered with hermit crabs and all kinds of shells. We took a few back with us, most ended up escaping on the beach. Big thanks to Captain Dave!
|Elena loved riding up front|
|Viv preferred the stern|
|Mommy bow shot|
We met up with some friends that come to this beach every year at the same time. Their daughter is Viv's age, and they played together beautifully for the week.
|Viv, Cha Cha, and I|
|Viv and Grandma|
|E and Nana|
We had our annual Sorry! Championship--two of them, actually, since different family members came for different weeks. This years Champions: Week one, Aunt Kate, and Week 2, Elena!
We went to play mini golf; in years past, this has been unsuccessful because it was dreadfully hot and normally too crowded when the sun goes down. We managed to play a few holes before a Pirate Show on an overcast day--Elena did GREAT maneuvering around the "pens" for each hole. No trips! AND Elena made a hole in one!
We didn't bring the trail-a-bike for the beach this year...because we just brought the kids' bikes instead! Vivian lost the training wheels earlier this month, and she did a great job on the beach. E is too big for her frame (as is Viv--they are nearly the same size), but the next size bike is too big for her. Elena did a great job in sand--she really had to use her muscles to propel the bike. Both girls had fun, even though E was a little upset that Vivian was far in front of her most of the time.
|And they're off!|
|Fun morning on the beach!|
Our favorite thing to do is just hang out on the beach, though. We saw dolphins (on our bike ride!), I found a starfish, and the girls enjoyed digging for clams, being mermaids in the surf (E did get flipped over with a strong shallow wave--but only once, and I was right there), and playing in the sand.
|Just us girls|
I had a hard time paring down pictures for this post...there's so many I just love.
|Standing on a sandhill|
Elena was expected to move mostly on her own. She wasn't responsible for carrying anything but herself and her crutches while we were out there. A lot of times she wanted a hand (sometimes she got one, especially if very tired or in rough water) but most of the time she walked alone. Her gait looked better (of course) when using crutches. The hardest part was always walking back to the beach access pier, with her crutches (she'd be tired, maybe a little cold, and not wanting to do stairs).
|Walking, side view|
|Right foot down|
|Left foot down|
Most of the time she fell in the water or sand right after a picture like this. But still, she looked better than last year walking on sand, especially if she took her time and thought about it. And now they can run into the surf together.
And yes, there was a lot of this.
|Yes, my back hurts|
|Right knee collapse--but still walking (so far, always without pain)|
|Wagon ride home (one block away)|
We had the best time. This beach is so family friendly, the access is close (the handicap access is about four blocks down), the house has everything we need, the water is warm, and the company can't be beat. Thanks always to our whole family for making this trip possible (and so much fun!), and to Dad and Kate for snapping most of these pictures, and for taking our big gear in their truck.
And how long did it take E to recover from so much beach time? NONE. We used the stander probably 10 days out of 14, the dynasplint every night, our usual stretches and a few massages in there (for both E and Viv). Bonus!