Long time, no post

3 04 2011

My fan base (aka my sister) pointed out that I haven’t updated my blog recently.  I hate to disappoint anyone willing to read my ramblings so here is the skinny on Laurie’s World-of-Walk.

Over the Christmas break I travelled to Florida to visit my parents. I was able to walk on and off the plane, which was just so convenient. I was also able to dance with my Dad on New Year’s Eve thus fulfilling a 15-year dream of his.     The irony is that I used to scold my Dad for maintaining hope that I would walk again. I mistook his hope for pressure or expectation or an implication that I was incomplete if I did not walk.

I was also lucky enough to get a referral for outpatient physiotherapy at a rehab hospital.  So now I’m up to 4 sessions a week: two with my original physiotherapist, Malcolm, and two with my new physio, Janice.   My progress has accelerated significantly. In fact, progress seems to be directly related to the amount of time and effort I put in. Now there’s a revelation.

Two significant things that I am working on are left leg strength and standing completely straight.  My right leg has been my pillar of strength, which means that I tended to let it do most of the work and give my left leg a pass on all but the most essential movements.  The primary reason for this is that muscle tone/spasticity creeps into my left leg when I put pressure on the ball of my foot. I have no idea why this is; it’s one of those strange things that happens when your nervous system is impaired.  Janice is forcing me to use my left leg to stand up and do squats.  The result is interesting; after the first few sit-to-stands in which I clumsily power through the tone, it seems to subside and allows my muscles to then work as they should, however weak they are.  I’m noticing improvement in strength and function, and the more I use my left leg, the less tone is present.  I wonder if tone is related to lack of use or to disruption in nerve signals?  It’s hard to tell as most people with SCI tone experience both.  Anyway, I’m sometimes caught by surprise, where I used to rely solely on my right leg, to find the left activating and making tasks easier and balanced.

I’m not sure if my videos demonstrate well the degree to which I walked slightly bent forward at the waist.  This is due to years in a chair and the back rigidity associated with it.  A specific stretch and balance exercise has been exceedingly helpful to straighten me out.  I stand with one foot ahead of the other, and place my weight on the front leg. Then I focus on standing straight on that front leg: pushing my hip forward and pulling my shoulders back (stretching the hip flexor), tucking my stomach in and my butt under (working out sway back).  I’m not quite straight 100% of the time, but I’m getting so close.  I’m fairly straight and flexible through my right side and getting close with my left.

I walk at home and work with a walker. Fluidity is coming along nicely, but I still lack speed.  I’ve actually tried out a cane as well, though I have the same speed issues.  Walking “hands free” is improving slowly too; I no longer have a silly walk but balance is something I still struggle with.  The stronger I get and the more I practice, the better my balance becomes.  See my latest video for a glimpse.

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