Welcome to Trexo’s interview series where we join in conversation with Trexo families to learn more about the changes they have seen since starting to use the Trexo Home.
This interview is with Julie, mother of 5-year old Jacob. One of Julie’s goals for Jacob is to get him strong enough to be able to use his gait trainer as long as possible. They have noticed a lot of positive changes since starting with the Trexo in December, including improvement in core strength, endurance, gait patterns and even speech! The following interview shares her experience and these insights of the Trexo.
This story shares Jacob’s experience only. The following is not reflective of results as investigated by a formal research study and reflects the experience of one family.
When Trexo visited the Seattle Children’s Hospital in the fall of 2019, their therapist team had to find a child to showcase the equipment. The young man who came to mind was Jacob Kuehn who at the time was 4 years old. The team picked Jacob because of his diagnosis with cerebral palsy (CP). At that time, Jacob could take a couple thousand steps each day in his gait trainer.
Like many children with cerebral palsy, however, Jacob needed help. While he could walk, his parents were focused on ensuring that he could walk with better posture, picking up his feet and shifting his weight. They understood that building good walking habits at a young age was important to help Jacob continue to walk as he got older. They decided to set a goal to keep Jacob strong enough to be able to use his gait trainer as long as possible.
Why get a Trexo for a child who can walk with a gait trainer
The team at Seattle Children’s wasn’t wrong, Jacob absolutely crushed the demo with the Trexo. Jacob started walking with the Trexo like a natural! With Jacob’s help, the Trexo team was able to show different speeds, gait setting and adjustments. Given his comfort level with walking, the Trexo team set him up without any weight bearing support by removing the saddle seat.
Following the session, Jacob’s mother Julie recalls there was “an immediate reaction”. In his regular gait trainer, Jacob’s steps looked better right away. Seeing this, his parents knew that they had to find a way to get the Trexo. According to Julie, the hardest part of getting the Trexo was waiting to have it delivered!
Walking with Trexo
The Trexo team provided training to Jacob’s family at the time of delivery. The training covered how to get Jacob in to the Trexo and run a session at home. During this time they set up the custom gait for Jacob and practiced running a session.
Thinking back to starting with the Trexo, Julie recalls there was a bit of a learning curve to figuring out the technology. But once they started using the Trexo regularly, they began to see results.
Currently their goal is to hit 4,000 steps/day, much larger than his step count in his regular gait trainer. Their reason for this goal, is to create enough repetitiveness for Jacob. With this many steps each session, Jacob will hopefully change his walking pattern with the help of neuroplasticity. The plan is to get him to learn correct heel strike, raising his knees while walking, and weight shifting.
Staying active with the Trexo while social distancing
Like many families, the Kuehns are trying to stay optimistic while they’re social distancing with the ongoing spread of COVID-19. Their regular therapy schedule which used to consist of physical therapy, occupational therapy, hippotherapy and speech therapy, is no longer available to them.
They started to worry that he would not be making strides and start to plateau without his therapy. Looking on the bright side, Jacob’s parents decided to pour this energy in to using the Trexo more. They’re now up to five days per week. Additionally Jacob keeps using his gait trainer.
As a couple of weeks of social distancing have gone by, Julie is happy that they were forced to use the Trexo more. “It’s our only option for therapy right now and it has been awesome seeing the outcomes of using the Trexo regularly”. Julie goes on to add “we might even revisit some of our schedule after all of this is done and push the Trexo more!”
Stronger body, stronger core, stronger speech
When discussing the outcomes they have seen with Jacob, the list is both long and exciting. “His speech has gotten better, body is stronger overall, and core muscles are working a lot more”.
They have noticed Jacob is holding his body differently from before. For example, when Julie is dressing Jacob, he can stand and hold her shoulder to support himself. He is also crawling more and has improved his hand coordination. This is all evident when he is walking in his gait trainer as well.
When Julie is doing laundry, Jacob now helps her by taking things out of the hamper with both hands and putting them into the washing machine. Using both hands like that is not easy! He is able to do it all while coordinating and balancing himself, Julie tells us. This is all new to them.
And in an unexpected change, despite Jacob’s speech therapy stopping temporarily, his speech has become more clear. The only difference that Julie can think of is the increased use of the Trexo.
“His speech has gotten better, body is stronger overall, and core muscles are working a lot more”.
Jacob’s mother, Julie
Jacob isn’t like most Trexo users. He is comfortable taking thousands of steps on his own with full weight bearing. In fact, Jacob loves walking in his gait trainer daily. But Jacob’s parents are adamant on giving him a chance to keep his endurance. They believe this is the key to help Jacob be more successful in life. In other words, they want Jacob to be as functional as possible, for as long as possible.
In September, Jacob will be starting kindergarten. The current times are hard because he misses school but the nicer weather is helping keep his spirits up. It has been more interesting for Jacob to stay active at home while his siblings are around to keep him motivated. And as the ongoing social distancing timelines continue to shift and change, Jacob’s parents are confident he is going to come out stronger once this is all over.
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