The beginning of a new year. How do I begin this wondrous new adventure of 2011? Sweating bullets as I work my butt of at Kennedy Krieger outpatient.
They've nicknamed this exciting time "Boot Camp" for the way it crushes your soul like a giant combat boot. I'm here for two weeks; I come in for three(ish) hours a day, five days a week for two weeks. This intense bout of therapy is designed to create a compact program to act as a sort of band-aid to the holes in your home exercise program.
Each boot camp stay in unique to the patient and injury. For me, we've been focusing a little on strength and flexibility but most of our time is spent on walking endurance and gait training (the placement, movement, style, etc. that are involved in proper walking). They do this in several ways:
The first is through a machine called the Therastride. It's a harness support system suspended over a treadmill. A computer controls the amount of weight that's put on the legs, the speed of the treadmill, etc. It allows for patients with varying injuries to work on walking patterns without gravity interfering.
BRACE USING CRUTCHES/CANES
The second is through the use of my stance control KAFO(Knee Ancle Foot Orthopedic) brace. I've talked a little about it before but for those of you who don't know, the brace allows me bend the knee when advancing the leg and keep it locked when I'm standing on the leg. This allows me to walk with the help of a walker or crutches. The knee joint on the brace actually broke right before Christmas but I'm happy to report it's back up and working now.
This isn't the exact model of my brace but this is the closest picture I could find.
This is me walking on my dock this past summer.
I'm normally using a pair of elbow crutches to walk around with, having stopped using my walker. My therapist are working on perfecting the way I walk, shifting my weight and moving more fluidly. In addition I'm supposed to minimize the amount I use the crutches for support in hopes to get me away from crutches. This last session we experimented with using two canes instead of the bulky crutches, an pretty successful exercise. It was more work since the canes offer less support than the crutches. While not a permanent solution just yet they offer another ray of hope for the future. I'm already begging to look up cool canes online.
Using the crutches and leg brace, they have been teaching me to go up and down flights of stairs. This is somewhat complicated by the fact that I have to carry my crutches up one handed as well the fact that if I lean too far forward the brace unlocks. I end up doing a weird duckwalk up the stairs but I can do it and that's what counts I guess.
As far as the personal stuff, I'm staying with my aunt and uncle again. They graciously opened their home again for our brief stay. It feels a bit weird to be back again in part its because I have spent more time living in their basement then I have at my parents house. It was like coming home again. My cousins are the same random balls of energy I remember. They have however become more clever: I used to be able to chase my little cousin around the basement for hours in my wheelchair. He's since figured out that if he runs up quickly and puts on my brakes he has time to escape. All I'd do if I caught him was tickle him but the import of that seems lost on him (he's 6).
This weekend I got to visit with the extended relations. We sat around drinking beer while watching the Ravens vs Chiefs. Lots of fun, lots of food, lots of laughter, lots of running, jumping, wrestling, screaming kids. A good time.
I've got a week to go but time is slipping by too fast. It's a ton of work but I'll definitely miss this place when I leave again. I already do.