May 5, 2004


Russ started his cognitive therapy at Kessler last week. He is in a modified program with some individual training and some group therapy. He seems to be enjoying it and from what I can see it looks like it will be beneficial. He brings home assignments. So far I have seen some scheduling assignments. They give him a list of tasks to be done. All the tasks have criteria. One to be done before a given time another to be done before another task and others that also have prerequisite tasks. He is then supposed to schedule them all in a given time frame.Most of these exercises are not too difficult but they do focus on areas he is having trouble with.


Yesterday Russ had his first VitalStim treatment. For this therapy they attach electrodes to parts of his throat. Electrical pulses are then applied. They think that is that he is capable of moving the muscles involved but his brain canít send the signal to the muscles. The electrical pulses cause the muscles to move. In the process we are hoping that the brain will renew the pathways or create new pathways to communicate with the muscles. This therapy is to help him swallow liquids better and possibly to be able to eat crunchy or chewy foods again. Right now he has trouble with all three.


On a day to day basis it is hard to tell what frame of mind Russ is in. He doesnít usually show outwardly that he is happy or sad except in obvious cases. I find myself asking him if he is OK a lot. He says he is OK but frequently it seems like he is unhappy.


At times it is very obvious that he is frustrated that he canít talk. If he knows he is right about something and we tell him he is wrong, he gets very animated and shakes his head yes or no wildly. Imagine if you were in a heated argument with someone and you had to wait 20 seconds to find the words and then you had to type your answer. I definitely can see how that would be annoying.


By the way, if anyone donates money where they work to the United Way you can help Russ and T-Bird Foundation! People who donate to the United Way have the ability to direct which charities United Way supports with your money. Now is the time to do it. I understand that United Way sends out the funds from the previous year in the spring and summer. Money donated to T-Bird this way will help Russ with his therapy expenses. Your support is greatly appreciated. Many thanks to Sam Oliva for letting me know about this.


Thanks for following Russ and his progress.