Two years ago, Rick started Botox and Dysport treatments to help with his stroke recovery. We reported on his experience with starting the, then, very new therapy in stroke rehabilitation. In fact, this therapy wasn’t even available in 2010 when he had his stroke. Therefore, when he discussed this with his doctor in 2016, it was not an easy decision to make. It had its dangers, and he wondered if it was even possible to keep improving 6 years after his stroke. But he agreed to take this route. Looking back, he’s happy he did.
Doctors adjust Botox and Dysport treatments as your needs change
Over the past years, Rick’s therapy varied according to his condition. Depending on the degree of spasticity, different muscles were targeted. For example, if specific muscles were functioning better, the doctor focused on the ones that were still spastic. The dosages and the times between shots changed as well throughout the process. What has stayed constant, however, is exercise. Rick emphasizes that the treatments only work if you also put time into physical therapy.
He also explains that 2-4 weeks after an injection is when you start to feel a difference. That’s when the effects kick in. And this is the perfect time to train your muscles. After about 12 weeks, you might start feeling a bit of stiffness again. At this point, your doctor should check and see how you’re doing and decide when to administer the next dosage. It’s important to note that this therapy is continuous. Shots are given regularly at intervals determined by your doctor. And you must continue to do your physical therapy. Injections and exercise go hand in hand. Botox and Dysport alone won’t do the trick!
Two years into the treatment – what life looks like now
What does life look like now for Rick? Everything is getting better! Rick has been getting Botox and Dysport injections to treat his arm and leg. And he notices improvements, especially in the way he can move his elbow and knee. He now reports being about to walk about 20% better than before. Things, like walking into a restaurant, going through the aisles of a grocery store, or doing household chores, are all done with ease.
Not only has his walking improved, but also his arm function. His arm is about 50% less spastic than it was 2 years ago. He can extend his elbow and point to the floor. Before the treatments, his elbow was always bent. Rick can now do things like fold the laundry, wash the dishes, put away groceries, and assist in meal preparation and cleanup because he has regained the ability to use his thumb fully and has regained some function in his fingers. And this might sound like a small change, but it’s enormous. It makes life much more comfortable. When he’s grocery shopping now, he can pick out anything, not just the items that he can open with one hand. These improvements make it easier for Rick to perform activities of daily living and have given him a better quality of life. And these changes give him hope of what’s to come.
Final thoughts from Rick
Rick has had a positive experience with Botox and Dysport treatments, but he emphasizes that it is not without its dangers. Every time he goes into the office to get treatment, he has to read the “black box” warnings and consent to the therapy. At first, it was scary to be reminded about what could go wrong, but now he’s gotten used to it as part of the process. He feels that the results have been worth it. If you’re interested, he encourages you to speak with your doctor to find out if it is a possibility for you.