Hello again everyone,
It is the end of July and the past month and a half have flown by. "What are you doing?" people ask. I stand and kinda just think "O.K., what have I been doing?" Well: 1, Working on getting an improvement in my walking. 2. Working on the two new Facebook pages "My Life After Stroke" and "The Stories Of Stroke" and 3. Spending more time working in the office. So now for a little more detail on these three items.
Working on improving my walking: On a previous post I talked about being introduced to a new device to help overcome "drop-foot". It is called a "Dictus Band". It took a couple of weeks but I did gather up the money to buy one. $70.00 Canadian. I had the opportunity to visit the Queen Elizabeth Hospital to buy it. Then my Physio took a week of vacation. I called her on the first day that she was back and we arranged to meet that afternoon. She watched me walk without the device and then helped me with getting me fitted. We applied it to two pair of shoes, one with Velcro straps and one with lace eyelets. She also fitted the Velcro strap pair with a separate piece of Velcro on the tongue to hold the clear tongue piece of the device more firmly in place.
I try to walk most days using the device. I noticed that with the device my brain has relaxed about thinking through each step to "raise the toe". Now, it had the capacity to begin thinking through the entire step. "flex the knee", "heel first", "roll through" and "push off with the toe". Cool, now my brain is talking me through developing a more normal gait. I can feel the improvement.
To teach the brain to flex the knee rather than rotate at the hip when I walk I have begun working with a stationary bike. By keeping my Left foot on the peddle it forces the knee to flex which I hope will enlighten the brain over time to flex the knee when I walk.
A second visit
About two weeks after the first visit my Physio called and asked if she could visit me again. This time she would like to bring along a summer student. We met that afternoon and again they watched me walk, outside this time. They decided to measure my range of motion on my Left calf. While keeping my heel on the floor they measured how far from the wall I could have my foot and still touch the wall with my knee. Max, toe to wall 12 cm. While this was determined to be "good", they felt that with exercise I could manage perhaps another cm. They also thought that it would be good for me to work on exercising the flexing of the toes on my Left foot. As I have been rotating at the hip rather that flexing at the knee the toes have not been getting properly worked and need to be stretched.
Calf extension and toe flexing exercises along with time on the stationary bike is what I am now doing in order to improve my gait when I walk. Wearing my Dicta Band device to allow my brain to talk me through the step process as I have already mentioned earlier. These are the elements of development in regaining a better gait when I walk.
There are many devices on the market for this purpose but they can be very expensive. If we don't have insurance coverage that will pay the cost then it is difficult to make use of them in our recovery. This is a low cost device combined with an exercise routine that I hope will improve the way I walk.
This combination may very well NOT be the answer in your particular case, but, if you would like to know more just leave a comment below or e mail me directly. Thanks!
Well I need to take a break after thinking and writing through number 1. So, I am going to do just that and maybe a little later I will do numbers 2. and 3.
An Update August 01,
This morning my student physio came by with the exercises that she wants me to do. (A printout from PhysioTools )
1. Stand in a walking position with the leg to be stretched behind you. Place your hands on a wall for support.
Bend the leg to be stretched and let the weight of your body stretch your calf without lifting your heel off the floor. Hold approx 30 secs. - relax. (repeat 3 times)
2. Stand in a walking position with the leg to be stretched straight behind you and the other leg bent in front of you. Take support from a wall or chair.
Lean your body forwards and down until you feel the stretching in the calf of the straight leg. Hold approx. 30 secs. - relax. Stretch the other leg. (repeat three times)
3. Stand by kitchen counter.
Lift your heel up and straighten your ankle. Hold 20-30 secs. - relax. (repeat 3 times)
Note: Remember to keep heel on the floor and foot straight!
I will start with doing these exercises once per day and if I get along well then try for twice per day. (well that's the plan) Combining these with my time on the stationary bike and daily walking should strengthen my leg mussels for walking as well as retrain my brain . (time will tell)
Thanks for reading.
Stroke Survivor since 2002