GRAND RAPIDS, MICH. - "Most of my life I’ve been a piano player. When I went back to the piano, everything had changed," said Mary Free Bed's Rehabilitation patient, Dale Lamps. "When you’re playing the piano you have these 88-keys, covering the span of three-and-a-half feet or so, you have your left hand doing this and right hand doing this."
On Sep. 25 of last year, Lamps suffered a stroke.
"I felt like my arms had changed length. That was so frustrating, I had to relearn everything. I used to be fairly good as an amateur. It was like starting over," he said.
Lamps has dealt with side effects from his stroke, but says the most life changing has been his vision. He's been rehabbing with Mary Free Bed once or twice a week since the end of November, with plans of wrapping up in March.
"That’s their focus, train this guy to adapt so that’s become my focus… train myself," said Lamps.
When he’s at the rehab center, he plays a range of games to retrain his eyes so they adjust where and when he needs them to.
"This provides a disciplined framework for finding out what you have to work on to get better and accommodate the impairments that you have," said Lamps.
One tool used by the Rehab Center is called Dynavision.
Mary Free Bed has used Dynavision technology for about 20 years and recently purchased the newest version, D2. It has extra features for testing and activities, and includes a computer that provides more information to the therapist. The feedback evaluates eye movement, hand-eye coordination, reaction times, peripheral vision, concentration and endurance.
"We look at it for return to driving mostly," said Kristi McKamey an Occupational Therapist at Mary Free Bed.
It’s a simple idea that really works.
A light goes off anywhere on the board, and it stays lit until the patient can locate and punch the correct button. To change things up, there's a screen displayed in the middle of the board that can be programmed with sentences, for the patient to read but still must adjust in order to find the lit button.
"It is an activity we want to do repetitively," said McKamey. "You are slowly gaining more speed and reaction time. It’s obviously not the only thing we’d work on for visually scanning, we’ve used cooking, just going out in the community, following written directions, searching, even perceptual activities, but it’s like keying into all these different areas and we can put all that together and make it functional for Dale."
He is improving every day. He, as well as the staff at Mary Free Bed, believe his outlook has a lot to do with that.
"I’ll tell you what my son told me," said Lamps. "He is a paraplegic. He went through rehabilitation in Mary Free Bed some 25-years ago. He said at the time, ‘how well you do after impairment is totally a matter of attitude,’ That is what he said."
Frustrations come along with the rehabilitation process, but Lamps keeps finding the positive side and is making strides everyday.
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