ABR

June 9, 2010

Full disclosure: I get a discount on Chloe’s therapy for including links to ABR therapy sites and blogs by fellow ABR parents on this blog. I am not, however, required or encouraged to rave about the therapy, or say anything about it that I don’t actually believe.

So what is ABR, you may ask. Well, you should probably just go to the website; it explains it better than I could. When I talk to doctors, therapists, or other parents, I describe ABR as “a kind of massage.” And they all think that’s cool, if maybe a little wacky. I don’t say “it flies in the face of everything you think about brain injuries, cerebral palsy, spasticity and biomechanics” because, well, people don’t really like to hear that kind of thing.

Recently, Chloe and I saw a new doctor. When I mentioned ABR, she looked down at her lap and said “Oh.”

“You’ve heard of it?” I asked.

“Yes,” she said, carefully. “I think it couldn’t hurt, and it has probably helped her sensory issues.”

Sensory issues, whatever. ABR has little to do with sensory issues. Yes, it probably does help them, but that would just be a side effect. But the point is that yes, it doesn’t hurt. Unlike botox shots, baclofen pumps, surgery, and even physical therapy, ABR has few negative side effects. The only one is that it’s time consuming, and, for a parent like me with a wiggly kid, frustrating.

I can’t say for certain that ABR works. The ABR people are currently gathering information for a big study that will hopefully show benefits. But right now, anything I say falls under the category of “anecdotal evidence,” which means it could be a coincidental, or even my imagination. But I’ll tell you this. Before ABR, Chloe could not vocalize (except to cry) or reach for toys. She could not lift her arms past the level of her shoulders, and she couldn’t pull her head forward at all. Now she can do all these things. Small gains for years of intensive therapy, but they are gains. They are permanent, and she didn’t need drugs or surgery to achieve them. For the two years before we started ABR, she made no progress at all. None.

So that’s my take on ABR. When you have a severely disabled kid, the medical industry offers little or no hope. Most treatments come with pain and risks, and might not work at all. So I decided to look outside the mainstream, find something that could be the next big thing, the paradigm shift necessary to spawn a breakthrough. And I believe ABR is it. I could be wrong, but I choose to believe. ABR gives me hope.

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