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Monday, May 23, 2011

Boot Camp: Day 1

Today was full of paperwork, evaluations, and tests. They haven't seen me in 5 months so they wanted to objectively access the progress of my recovery. Lucky me.

They tested flexibility which has improved slightly in my right leg. My left ankle (the weaker leg) has tightened up, most likely due to the fact that it lays limp during my sleep. This causes the muscles to weaken and shorten, making it more difficult to use the foot when I walk. I'm really supposed to use a piece of equipment, a Multi Podus boot, which keeps my foot fixed in place during sleep. I've almost never used mine because it's bulky and uncomfortable, besides the fact that I roll around in my sleep.

So my therapist suggested a lighter piece of equipment, made of fiberglass casting material (think of when you break your arm and they put you in a caste) combined with Velcro. They will be able to make it while I'm still in Baltimore so that I cans start using it as soon as possible. I'll keep you posted as this develops.

With muscle strength tests I excelled. The muscles that were just waking up in January are now strong and muscles that were missing are now reappearing. My quads (thighs) are strong, my hamstrings are weak, and the calves are moving for the first time in a year and a half. The ankle remains stubbornly still.

I had been excited to show everyone my new computerized leg brace but it's on the fritz. So I put on my old wire and cogs leg brace. And I kicked butt! The two major tests that are done are the 6 minute test and the Disabled Angry Bear Test (10 meter test). In the 6 minute test you see how far you can walk in 6 minutes. I doubled the distance I could walk in January. In the Disabled Angry Bear Test (how fast you could run if you were being chased by angry bear, with the bear having a disability of some kind) I shaved it down from 10 meters in 12 seconds to 8 seconds. So basically I'm squashing all my old records.

After this we walked up two flights of stairs, something I learned the last time I was at boot camp. In my therapist's words "you make this look easy!" Forget about it, I've got that one covered.

The coolest thing in my opinion was the response my legs had to be the electrical stimulation. Kennedy Krieger believes in the heavy use of electrical stimulation on disabled limbs; research has shown increased muscle and nerve growth when electrical stimulation is used along with a full PT program. There are two different systems that KKI uses, the Empi Stim Unit and Swiss Stim Unit. Swiss Stim is an electrical stimulation unit that varies the parameters of the electricity that is pumped to to the muscles; the hope is that somewhere on this range of wavelengths the muscles receive the signal they are waiting for and contract. A vary useful rehab tool, the company that made them unfortunately stopped production a few years ago.

Therapists have used different stimulation units on me since last February. In all that time, the left leg has never responded, the right has always had huge muscle contractions from the beginning. Today we put the electric pads on my legs to try it out, to cross it off the list of things to try. Me and my therapist were both shocked when there were weak contractions with the Swiss Stim Unit. Trying the Empi Unit as well we proved that it was contracting and not just a fluke. Both my glute(butt) and hamstring showed weak shaky contractions, the work of inexperienced new muscle. If the increased movement in my legs didn't prove to me that my nerves are regrowing, this settle it.

So a lot of promise. Two weeks to look forward to. We're going to work on integrating canes into my walking, figure out exercises, work on fixing any hitches to my gait pattern, and work in the pool on the underwater treadmill. I likely won't be writing a ton because I'm usually dead tired after these sessions but I will try and keep everyone in the loop as much as I can.

Beat Union "Pressure Zone"

1 comment:

  1. that is wonderful news bud keep up the good work and hang in there all that pain and exhaustion will pay off and then you can walk to colorado with me if we have to lol! love you tons bud. miss you terribly. cant wait to see you again.