Click the picture for the story of Calypso, the Three Legged Green Sea Turtle, and why she's my symbol

Friday, February 24, 2012

The evolution of the cane

Many of you have heard me discuss my leg braces (KAFO, stance-KAFO, and Roboleg) and my AFO (Ankle Foot Orthosis, or ankle brace), in gory detail. What you may not be aware of is the fact I've used many different walking aids over the past two years. The latest of which is my new cane (singular), the Airgo Comfort Plus.

It's design is sleek and smooth, it's got an awesome color, and its more sturdy than any of the canes I'm currently using.

For those who missed it, after I was injured on December 29, 2009 I couldn't move either of my legs for a month. I had given up hope of getting function back at that point when, surprise, I got a toe wiggling. Though this was an immensely positive sign it was months before I could even stand in the parallel bars.

After months of toil and hard work I was able to stand up using  a walker and a leg brace that looked like it had been used when Polio was still around. The four legs of the walker allowed me to hang on tightly without falling over. This was a big step, proving that I had the potential to be standing and walking again. I used the walker for weeks while I slowly became used to standing upright and walking/limping forward.

The tree's not moving... Well NOW what am I supposed to do?

As I left inpatient I was given a pair of crutches from a friend who had moved on to using canes.

These allowed greater freedom of movement, now that I was starting to gain back my strength and endurance. Around this same time I also acquired my stance-KAFO (Knee Ankle Foot Orthosis, or full leg brace) and continued to relearn how to walk. I still have these crutches and hope to pass them on to someone else who needs them.

Fast forward to 2011, when I got my flame canes.

Inspired by the same person who gave me my crutches, I got two matching flame canes when I was ready for the challenge. It was hard at first to balance without the extra support from my crutches but I begun to use my canes more and more.

My physical therapists experimented with different cane combinations/types:
using one cane only,

using a quad cane,

trialing out other canes, as well as trialing these with all my different types of leg and ankle braces. I settled on using my pair of flame canes and my AFO to get around.

Now that I've finally gotten rid of my wheelchair for good (knock on wood) I've been looking about for a new goal to work towards. Though I've been able to walk with only one cane for some time (see video above) I've had a hard time doing this for more than a few minutes at a time. This past week I decided it was time to move from double canes to a single cane. It didn't take long to find this sleek and durable cane, the device that will help me limp my way into the future.

For anyone who is first starting out with a new spinal cord injury I have two pieces of advice:

1) Always listen to your physical therapist. They generally are very knowledgeable and will have practical suggestions that will help you physically improve.

2) Never be afraid to try new things. This includes braces, walking aids, physically challenging feats, social situations, a new job, a new school, etc. You never know what could happen to you and it just might be amazing.

I never expected to be walking again and yet here I am. I am not promising that those without working legs will suddenly rise up, walk, run, and dance the hula. But if you challenge yourself you are almost guaranteed to find you can do more than you thought you could.

1 comment:

  1. Does that mean I dont get to push you around in your wheelchair anymore? Damn. Lol. Im super proud of you Pete. Every step you take reminds me why I fight so hard in life. Your an inspiration to us all. Especially me, because I know if you can walk again than I can take the next step too. Elijah is lucky to have such an AWESOME Godfather. I love you with all my heart pete. Cant wait to see you.... 6 more weeks! And you get to meet my Eli. With a hero like you to look up to I know he will do well too. Miss ya bud. Call me.