Mark, and his wife ~ 'recovery coach' Marni, are an incredible testament to perseverance, maintenance of hope and openness to all forms of healing through Mark's journey of recovery. I have been honoured to journey with Mark for these last few years, supporting and witnessing each step of his recovery.
In my experience as an Occupational Therapist I have worked in various ICUs, acute care, and in rehabilitation settings working with people whom have experienced traumatic brain injury (TBI), as well as those who have had cerebral vascular accidents (CVA/Stroke). Even in those settings, when appropriate, I have used mind-body tools and techniques to assist clients, and their families, to deal with various challenges along the way ~ use of guided progressive relaxation can help alleviate anxiety, decrease resting muscle tone and help with increased body awareness ~ often affected with neurological injury.
Often, time and practice setting constraints of the medical care system limit the potential to take a truly holistic approach, and incorporate modalities that promote healing on all levels of one's recovery experience.
I began working in private practice in order to offer a more integrative approach.
Utilizing yoga as a therapeutic tool with Mark has been a great fit. Meeting many of his neuro-physiological rehabilitation needs and the ongoing healing of his heart and spirit.
In early September 2009 my very athletic & motivated then 57 year old husband, Mark, was riding his brand new bicycle to the gym on his way to work. He was a senior partner in a CA firm & at the prime of his life, both career & health-wise.
A car turned left, straight into his path, & Mark suffered a traumatic brain injury (TBI). He was rushed to hospital & when I arrived I was informed that he would likely not survive & IF he did he would be "nothing but a blob in a wheelchair"...
Both of us are a bit stubborn. I was not about to give up without a full-blown fight & so, the rebuilding of Mark began.
He went from hospital to hospital. I was looking into every kind of therapy I could muster for him, many of which were alternative & highly supportive. In the Bridgewaterhospital I was told about "this lovely OT who also practices yoga" & I knew I needed to find her.
Amanda was at the end of her maternity leave & soon after her return to work we did connect! Mark was now in the Lunenburg hospital waiting to move to Peter's Place, a proper brain injury rehab center, & the minute Mark saw her he lit up. The positive chemistry was amazing & I felt myself take the first deep breath I had in a very long time. I knew she was going to help him...They have been having weekly sessions ever since.
Amanda instructed Mark at the hospital, followed him to Peter's Place & then to our home. The benefits he has gained from her guidance, patience & heart-felt talks are irreplaceable. His balance, concentration, temperament, patience, strength & confidence all were dashed & destroyed in his accident... But thanks for Amanda & her yoga classes, he is slowly but most certainly healing.
Mark has many various therapies; art, swim therapy, pilates, gym, auricular acupuncture, etc., & all do help him greatly. But, Mark, his caregivers & I all feel that his yoga classes with Amanda have been the steady hand, the constant & the most beneficial of all.
He doesn't find a lot of joy in his new life but Mondays are ALWAYS a happy day for Mark...
He calls them Amanda Day.
Left/right brain integration, body awareness, proprioception & kinesthesia, sitting & standing balance, fine and gross motor coordination, active and passive range of motion, attention and memory function can all be worked with effectively through a customized yoga practice.....along with breath awareness and techniques to support re-learning of emotional regulation. Elements of yogic philosophy are interwoven through each session ~ inviting Mark to be fully present, to create more self-awareness, and determination with self-love and compassion during all phases of recovery. OT and Yoga are great friends!
Supported yoga postures, designed and graded to meet the clients needs, are wonderful therapeutic options. I have a variety of yoga props that I use with clients. However, I often try to utilize items they have at their house, if appropriate and their session takes place in their home. Traditionally yoga was taught one on one. Yoga asana (postures) were meant to be adjusted to suit the student, not the other way around.
People who have had a significant TBI, also experience a lot of fatigue. Their brain does not process information in the same capacity as it once did and therefore the brain and body expend much more energy processing and co-ordinating information, and executing actions. Restorative postures are extremely important for allowing deep periods of rest, and restoration of energy. Our bodies are designed to align with self-healing. In order for this innate aspect of our human nature to kick in and build power, we need periods of deep relaxation. This is true of illness prevention, as well as building recovery and wellness.
Each session ends with taking a moment for gratitude ~ Mark is invited to think of some thing, or experience, that has brought him a sense of joy, relief, appreciation, enjoyment, or achievement...in that day.
Together we pause, hands at our heart centers and end our session with 'Namaste'.
A sanskrit word that means, 'The divine light within me, sees the divine light within you.'
We all need to be reminded that there is something divine and special about all of us, regardless of our life circumstances, or our achievements ~ simply BEING who we are is special enough!
Love and peace,
Mother, daughter, sister, friend, therapist, teacher, coach, healer, traveler, yogi, dancer, music lover, lover of nature, student of life, spiritual adventurer, seeker of truth, joy and peace...