Monday, November 17, 2008
Progress in walking
About a month ago we decided to try it again to see if my range of motion had any effect. That attempt was successful enough that we decided to keep working on it. At my last Physical Therapy visit we made three attempts at walking with one crutch. There was improvement in each attempt, even though I was growing progressively tired with each step!
The first attempt began with Renee (my Physical Therapist) holding onto a gait belt that was wrapped around my waist. She had her hand tucked into the belt at the small of my back, so that she could help if I started to fall. My single crutch was on my right arm, which seems backwards because it's my left hip that is the weakest, but apparently you are supposed to use the crutch on the opposite arm from the weakest side. We walked approximately 100 feet, at which point she asked me to stop without grabbing onto any stable objects. (One of the issues that I had in our previous attempt was that my momentum would continue to carry me forward so I couldn't stop without something stable, like a wall, to grab onto.) To my surprise I was able to stop easily! The next trick was to see if I could turn around, which was difficult, but I was able to shuffle around until I was facing the way we had come. We then walked 100 feet back to where we'd started and I sat down to rest for a moment.
Renee didn't let me rest for long! After I had caught my breath she made me get up for the next attempt. Because the first try went so well I felt a little more confident and asked Renee if she could hold onto the tail of the gait belt instead of tucking her hand in the small of my back. Even though Renee wasn't technically giving me assistance during the first attempt, just having her hand in the small of my back sends a signal that helps with posture and speed. I wanted to see how it would feel without that support.
This time Renee had one of her students walk along side me just in case I started to go down. Renee held onto the tail like I had asked and we walked a little further this time. Again, she asked me to stop and I had no problems coming to a halt. When we started back the other direction she asked her student to walk arm in arm with me. This served two purposes. One was to see if I would rely on the student for support, and the other was because I'm going to be in a wedding next year and we needed to see if I could handle walking beside a bride's maid. The good news is the I didn't use the student for support, so as long as the bride doesn't pick out dresses that I could trip on, I should be able to handle the wedding procession just fine!
After we got back to our starting point I sat down to rest once more. Renee asked the student to get me a cup of water, with a lid and straw. I thought this was just a nice treat because I was so hot and sweaty, but Renee had something else in mind.
When the student returned I only had time for a few sips of the water before Renee told me to get back up. This time she wanted to see if I could walk and carry the cup of water at the same time. Of course, this was the reason for the lid and the straw. I certainly wouldn't want to risk spilling water on my legs. I COULD SHORT OUT! Once again we walked a little over 100 feet down the hall. Not only did I manage to avoid spilling the water, but I was even able to take a few sips out of the straw while I was walking! i did just fine walking back to the starting point, but I'd had enough practice by then.
We then worked on stretching to see how much range of motion we could measure in my hip. The previous record was 5 degrees of extension, which we hadn't always been able to reproduce. That day we measured 8 degrees of extension, which is more progress than I've had yet!
My goal now is to keep practicing walking with a single crutch so that I'm really comfortable with it by the time my friends wedding comes around. I tried it for the first time outside of therapy at church this Sunday. It went much better than I had anticipated. In fact, for some reason I took off at a faster speed than I had yet been able to accomplish with only one crutch. Mom was worried that I wouldn't be able to stop, and I have to admit I was a little concerned as well! However, it was more comfortable and controlled than I had expected, so I continued to show off in the entryway afterward. Everyone was happy to see it. A couple people couldn't quite tell what was different at first, and one person asked "are you supposed to be doing that?!"
As I said, it's more comfortable than I expected, but it's still not as safe as walking with two crutches. I haven't tried any obstacles like curbs or ramps yet. I did take a few steps in the driveway yesterday, to show Jamie (my roommate), and quickly discovered that going downhill is not a good idea. As far as day to day use in the community I will continue to use two crutches, but it's good to know I can do it if I have to.
Harry and Lilla
We have been watching your progress and are so happy to hear you are getting stronger and stronger! Came across a few pics from our wedding a few days ago...I will have to send them to you!
We will keep you in our prayers!
I need to try to read your posts a little slower, though. Towards the end of your second paragraph, you wrote "There was improvement in each attempt, even though I was growing ..." I thought it said "...even though I was growling ...". :-D That was an interesting mental image. Amazing what a different one letter can make!! :-D
Thanks for the update, cousin, and keep up the good work!
MISS YOU TERRIBLY...