Meredith, with severe cerebral palsy.
This is Meredith’s story, as told by Mary, the Occupational Therapist who developed the Merry Muscles Therapeutic Exerciser (originally called MEAS). The joy that the exerciser gave to the users, touched Mary’s heart deeply!
Meredith in June 1981, age 5, spastic cerebral palsy, very poor sight. We were asked to make a bigger Merry Muscles (MM) for her when she was only five years old.
She loved to be raised up high and swung. Her father would let her down close to him while he read the paper and rocked her with one hand.
At that time the therapists, including myself, had been taught that it was a cardinal sin to allow children like Meredith to have their feet touching the floor. So, her parents let her down on an angle where she was semi-reclined and only her heels touched the floor. Then, for real FUN they would raise her up at their waist level and swing her back and forth to play “swing-me, catch-me” between them. Then Meredith outgrew her bigger MM and her parents found out that I had developed MEAS. By then Meredith was 12 years old and too heavy for her very slight mother to lift without pulleys.
June 1988: Meredith age 12 years. Her mother suggested the 2 extra straps, which come from the front of the bucket seat to the top of the front bib on the upper body support. These extra straps help to stabilize her and she does much better WITHOUT wedges but still uses her pummel.
Without prior approval of her therapists, we let her try a pelvic support seat. She loved it!
Meredith’s therapists, because of their training, were very opposed to her having MEAS. I arranged to meet one of them and she finally consented to let Meredith try a “bucket seat only” and then only if it had under-the-knee wedges and a pummel like Meredith’s horrid wheel chair.
In actual trial we found that the wedges and the pummel INCREASED Meredith’s extensor thrusts very badly and she was much better without them BUT she needed extra wings at the top of her upper body section, and she needed an extra set of straps from the front of her bucket seat up to her chest.
Meredith shown above, in the bucket seat, designed to support her in a sitting position. It has a padded foam board seat with cloth wings to give hip support. But, even with all this extra support, Meredith could get herself into standing position. So, her mother said, “She is my daughter and if she is so determined to stand up, why not let her do so, after all she is so scrambled now what more harm can it do?
Meredith then began using the pelvic support seat with the exerciser, which put her into a supported standing position. This is shown in some of the photos, and in others she is in the bucket seat (sitting).
Mary (an occupational therapist and also the inventor of the exerciser) is having as much fun as Meredith in this photo!
This set of photos below was taken after Meredith had been using her MEAS for about one year and she was 13 years old. The pictures are copies of photos that were taken many years before digital cameras!
Photos #1-5 demonstrate the method that the group home staff used to put her in her top with bucket seat attached. The directions in the MEAS manual advise placing the client on a bucket seat already attached to the top while the bucket seat is on a surface that allows normal sitting posture, but by now Meredith would get so excited when she saw or heard her MEAS that the best thing to do was put her on the floor directly under where the top pulley was attached to the wooden arched doorway.
Photos below of Meredith being placed in the exerciser with the pelvic support seat.
And up, to a supported standing position which Meredith thoroughly enjoyed!
Photos below of Meredith in the bucket style seat, used for gentle swinging exercises, which she obviously loved.