Tuesday, August 12, 2008

caregiving: memory loss and knee contracture

Last week included Patti’s latest Care Plan Review. Patti’s care facility schedules these sit downs every two months.

Two topics dominated conversation, is Patti’s memory/mental confusion worsening and physical therapy.

An advantage to the care facility era has been this collective comparing of notes and observations about Patti’s MS symptoms. Though when it comes to memory, I believe Patti sums it up best herself, “it sucks!”

While a MRI contrasted with a previous MRI could graphically demonstrate deterioration, what does that really tell us. “It sucks” worse?

MRI testing is an ordeal for Patti and eventually requires general anesthesia. … The patient is content with “it sucks”!

Physical therapy confronted with a most uncooperative patient, decided to try stretching her legs by splinting to address contracture. Patti now wears a SoftPro Static Gel Knee Orthosis on each knee an hour a day while napping; they hope to work this up to overnight.

When Multiple Sclerosis causes loss of movement in the legs this triggers changes in the muscle, tendons and ligaments which in turn complicates bending or straightening.

In Patti’s case this has worsened to severely impacting transferring.

When I transfer her myself, now days I have to just dead lift her up because her feet practically tuck up under her when lifted.

The other day I arrived to find three staff members PLUS a mechanical lift needed to change and dress Patti, again knee contracture the major culprit.

MS symptom relief research is rare among US Multiple Sclerosis organizations; fortunately that is not the case with the UK Multiple Sclerosis Society.

Their study “to investigate the effectiveness of stretching the knee and then positioning the leg in a splint for two hours” I believe is worth a visit to mssociety.org.uk and the 6 minute video presentation, Relieving tight painful joints.

(Some of the Scottish accents may leave Americans wondering if we speak the same language. <grin>)

Or better yet, the Care Plan Review in Patti-speak: “MS sucks! … Why are those birds so loud? … Those knee things are annoying. … When do I get a cigarette?

Caregivingly Yours, J Patrick Leer


  1. I think its a good idea to have these care plans every 2 months; its unfortunate because you can see the decline that much sooner but at least planning can be done every 2 months as opposed to a longer period of time; its sad to see Patti dealing with those contractures in her knee as well as the stress it puts on all who transfer her


  2. Patti's health care facility sounds great compared to some I've heard about. I just finished reading an article about 'who gets the best health care' by regions. New England scores the best!


  3. (((((((((((((((((HUGSTOYOU)))))))))))))))))That is wonderful you have good Doctors working with Patti.I always ike hearing how Patti doesnt like it,when She uses Her words.Have a good week.

  4. That sure looks alot more comfortable than what they used for hubby's, which were full leg braces that were inflated to different degrees of straightening.  
    All his transfers were done with a hoyer lift, which only staff could use.
    I'm glad to see such progress in researching of symptom relief.  We just had to "wing it".  
                                                                                                 :)  Leigh

  5. Is this the "fetal" stage I hear about?  Your dedication is laudable, I know I always say that but if I had the loving responsibility you did, I'd need the reinforcement.  That contraption reminds me of the neuropathy chokers I had on both legs, kept the contracting muscles from staying in the freeze position.  My left knee is still subluxed, bent permanently outward.  And I complain?  Of course.  Kudos, Patrick.  CATHY


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