I have no recollection of my initial months at the rehab hospital, but I later learned from my wife that I received daily physical, occupational, speech therapy and neuropsychological training.
During the early weeks, physical therapy sessions consisted of simply helping me to sit up, or roll over in bed. I was placed on a passive cycling machine to begin the process of regaining mobility in my hips and legs.
With daily physical therapy I could eventually sit up in a wheel chair,
then stand in a swimming pool, and finally,
walk on a treadmill with the bulk of my body weight being held up by a harness.
Physical therapists helped me do stretching, balance, and catching a balloon exercises. They also did massage.
Initial occupational therapy sessions were aimed at improving my motor skills. At first, improvement was tedious. It took me a full 30-minute occupational therapy session to learn how to insert a CD into a CD player and turn the music on. OTs engaged me in various activities in which I would be required to make use of my hands, including puzzles, art therapy, picking up various-sized objects off the floor, and finally, learning how to become independent with eating, dressing etc.
Later occupational therapy sessions at a rehab center were targeted to very specific problems: my inability to bend my hip was solved by training in the use of reachers and other dressing aids. My inability to drive, resulting primarily from my peripheral neuropathy, was resolved by having hand controls installed in my vehicle and becoming trained in the use of the hand controls.
I had to relearn how to speak. The speech therapist would show a picture and give the beginning sound of a word and this would trigger the memory of how to say the word. I primarily worked on simple day-to-day conversation skills. later therapy sessions involved discussions about current news articles or events and finally, scientific articles. Gradually, with assistance from the speech therapists, nurses, and with neuropsychological training, I was able to express myself, speak and to communicate effectively.
My reaction time to simple visual computer tests was far below average. I suffered strange problems with handwriting as my hand would literally write a different letter than what my brain was telling it to. The computer keyboard revealed that I was not encountering problems with letter recognition. Rather, there appeared to be miscommunication between my brain and motor skills. That is, my brain recognized that my hand was writing an incorrect letter. I would practice writing a single letter over and over.
Common neuropsychological tests (California Verbal Learning Test, Benton Visual Retention Test, Attention Processing Test) were used to assess memory and visual impairments. Training to remedy these deficits included problem solving, simple arithmetic and algebra problems, logic problems, computer-based visual acuity and reaction training or tests, and one-on-one discussions of current events from a newspaper, magazine, or journal article.
Other neuropsychological therapy tasks include solving logic problems like planning a day of errands based on the locations of shops on a map and time constraints, and memory exercises like remembering items on a shopping list.
Computer exercises helped me improve my reaction times, and to practice basic arithmetic and logic problems.
I had severe short term memory problems. I had to wait for the brain to "rewire." The therapists taught me how to cope with memory problems, for instance writing everything down in a journal.
I also had "fantastic confabulations," a strong belief in events that never happened. At one point, I believed that my wife was just my girlfriend and that my daughter was actually my niece.
With continued neuropsychological training, the cognitive deficits improved, and I began to bond with my daughter.
I was unable to control my bladder or bowels. This resolved over time.The nurses reminded me frequently to try to use the toilet.
After 6 months in the rehab hospital I could walk with crutches. My reaction times to simple computer reaction tests had improved greatly. However, I still suffered significant short term memory loss and concentration problems.