Spidey Boo, Spidey Boo
Does anything that a spider can do…
OK, it doesn’t have same ring to it, does it? But let me tell you: we are loving Boo’s new
spidey I mean lycra suit. The Grumposaur is a very keen (insanely keen) cyclist, so lycra and I have a long and difficult relationship. I have to confess, though, that I hadn’t heard of lycra for therapeutic use until Boo’s birth.
It was first mentioned to me not by one of Boo’s therapists, but by a parent of one of Sissyboo’s friends in the playground. She’s an adult OT, who until recently worked for a very overstretched OT service in North London. When I talked to her about Boo’s tone issues (the floppiness in his trunk versus the intermittent stiffness in his arms and legs) she said, ‘Push for dynamic orthotics, you know, lycra garments.’ I didn’t know, but like the research-obsessed parent of a child with additional needs that I am, I found out as much as I could quickly.
At the time, many months before his diagnosis, Boo was far too young for lycra to be of much use. But as time went on, I kept thinking about dynamic orthotics more and more. If only Boo’s trunk wasn’t so low tone, he could surely do so much more. It was on my Boo list (yes: it’s an actual list and it is huge) of things to follow up on. By coincidence, however, at his next physio appointment, his lovely therapist said ‘I think it’s time we thought lycra’.
Of course, nothing therapeutic comes cheap and costs have to be carefully justified and rationalised. So to test Boo’s suitability for lycra, we conducted a very high tech experiment. The physio went in search of some tubular elastic bandages to put round his middle. It turned out that no one in our huge hospital had any at all (and someone who worked there who recently went to A and E with a sprained ankle was apparently told by the person treating them that the hospital ‘couldn’t afford them any more’). So we had to wait until the next appointment.
This appointment was just a couple of weeks later, and the physio came armed with regular bandages that didn’t break the NHS bank account. She and Boo’s OT then tried their best to make Boo look like a Scooby Doo baddy by wrapping bandages tightly round his trunk while his expression gradually changed from disgruntled incredulity to disgust. He was not at all sure the Egyptian mummy look was in this season, but we could all see straight away what a difference this made. His c-shaped spine was more like a capital ‘I’. It was amazing.
Roll on a few months, during which the physio wrote a justification of resources and got a consultant to sign off on the cost, a measuring-up appointment with orthotics and then a fitting and hey presto. The Spidey suit came home.
As you’ll see from the pics, it’s like a mini wetsuit, tailored specifically to meet Boo’s needs. It gives him sensory feedback around his trunk to get his brain to send some of the necessary messages to his trunk muscles so they do at least some of the work they should. It helps him open his hands a little better, too.
It has its down sides. It’s breathable, but not the coolest thing in the world and necessarily very tight. Thankfully it’s good-looking enough that Boo could wear it on its own with a pair of shorts on hot days and he would still look his gorgeous, funky little self. But of course, we only have one suit and it needs to be washed (by hand, of course, no machines) and hand/air dried at the end of every second to third day of wear to be ready for the next morning. (Drying it out is not easy at this time of year, let me tell you.) It also brings with it some physical complications. Boo is a little stiffer at the hips now and his rolling progress went backwards in the days after first trying the suit as he struggled even more than normal to raise and bend his legs. We’re working on that and heading back to where we started now (a pattern we’re very used to in this crazy old life of ours).
For all these minor inconveniences, though, the benefits are enormous and we need to get as much evidence of these as possible in the next few months so that, hopefully, the NHS will continue to fund suits for him as he grows (which he is doing at an alarming rate). I hope to get a pic in the next few days to show you how much straighter his spine is in this. How much longer he can sit in a diamond sitting position. How much better and taller he stands (with our support, of course). For now, you’ll just have to trust me. But even just looking at this pic, will show you something small but significant in our world.
You might not see anything remarkable, but for me, this is a sight for very red and sore eyes!
Look how straight Boo is lying! Without the suit, if you lay Boo on the floor he’d be doing his best impression of the letter S, all squirmed and curved in the wrong places. He’s straight as an arrow here. That’s the lycra.
Come on, Boo. What are you gonna do now?
Is he strong,?
Can he swing from a thread?
Take a look overhead.
There goes Spider Boo.