In the midst of our crazy move and unpacking frenzy, we had an appointment to have Kingsley casted for his RGO's. RGO's are Reciprocating Gait Orthosis. They are basically braces up to his waist/torso with a spring action so that when he leans back the right way his foot will kick out. Lean the other way, the other foot kicks out. It simulates walking for someone who cannot walk themselves.
They receive mixed reviews in the SB world. Older generations remember them as torture devices, but current parents of younger kids like them. From talking to some PT's about the way things used to be, there used to be more of an attitude of 'walking at all costs', which I don't feel like there is anymore. Wheelchairs weren't even mentioned until kids were 3yo and all walking options had been addressed. Jeff and I know that RGO's are not going to be a functional means of walking for King. We have realistic expectations of this being an exercise for him, another way for him to be up and doing something. I don't plan on taking him out around the town or walk to school or anything.
My reason for wanting Kingsley to have RGO's is that I see a future for him in which there will be some way for him to be upright, functionally, if he wants to be. I don't know what it will be or what it will entail, but technology is progressing so quickly that things like Segway's and Exoskeleton's are only going to open doors. I want him to be confident being upright and for his body to know what it feels like to move this way. I want to provide these opportunities for him now, just so that nothing is closed to him later.
Which brings me to his casting appointment.
We had our initial appointment with the orthotist a few months ago to discuss it and get the paperwork started. Sidebar - these fun little braces will cost over $12 000. For real. Fortunately, we have a program here called ADP that covers 75% of the majority of equipment we will need for Kingsley, but do the math and *choke*, these are no joke. There was very little chance that ADP wouldn't cover them, we weren't worried about that, but they were a little slow on their approvals lately, so we just let them take a few months to sign back the form while we dealt with house stuff. Now, the approval was in, we were set.
Unfortunately, the orthotist gave us some bad news. Kingsley's legs are too tight. He can't straighten his knees and his hips are getting tight now also. Kinger has some unique functioning of his legs that doesn't always work in his favour. One is that he can flex his hips and bend in his knees a bit. This tucking action allows him to lift his feet a couple inches up off the floor when he's seated on a chair (use your abs and hips only to do this, that's what he has). It allows him to also tuck and get into an all-fours position. He can't, though, squeeze his knees in to close his legs, nor does he have any quad at all, so when his legs tuck in, he can't push them back out, they either fall down naturally or they stay. Mostly, they stay. He sits crossed legged, he sleeps frog legged on his stomach, he kneels all splayed out. He's only ever stretched out when he's in his stander and even being in that 1-3 hours a day is just preventing him from getting tighter, not loosening him at all.
What this means is that Surgery #5 is coming up. They will have to release his tendons, both legs and his ballerina foot/ankle, followed by casting for 6 weeks. Yikes. This will allow him to have straight legs again and a foot that more easily gets to 90 degrees. It's not a surprise, we knew at some point this would have to be done.
It is important that we do this surgery first, even though technically they could accommodate all of tightness in his RGO's. Accommodating may make them harder for him to use them and for all of the reasons mentioned above, we really want this to be something that Kingsley does not hate or resent. We will be heading back to ortho in a couple months and see what she thinks, start to plan. I'm hoping to wait until the fall. I have my own ortho surgery in two weeks (eeek!!!) and it'll be a couple months before I'm back to normal, followed by summer with a brand new pool - hello! Can you imagine how horrid that would be for poor King?? Six weeks in casts will be hard enough.
This surgery doesn't scare me that much. Surgery is surgery, so it doesn't thrill me or anything, but surgery on his legs seems so much less intense than, you know, brain surgery. One day at a time.