Saturday, December 12, 2015

Precision PT = Progress 11 Years After My Stroke

Rebecca Dutton
Home After a Stroke
December 2, 2015

I started PT after injuring my back when I fell on my patio in October.  This is my first experience with precision PT.  Instead of having me do generic exercises like walk on the treadmill, Tony evaluated the individual muscles of my back and hemiplegic (paralyzed) leg.  Here are two of the many things I learned 11 years post stroke.

#1.  Back spasms are a future risk for me because abdominal muscles on my hemiplegic side are still very weak.  The stomach crunches I have been doing (photo) let me use many muscles to assist my stomach muscles.  Tony, my PT, had me repeatedly lift only my bent hemiplegic leg slowly while lying on my back and then lower my leg without touching my foot to the mat.  OMG.
I felt increased muscle tone in my abdominals for hours.  Guess what I am doing every morning before I get out of bed.

#2.  Tony discovered I developed the bad habit of locking my hemiplegic knee so my leg muscles do not have to work.  Now I stand with both knees slightly bent during 4 activities of daily living (ADLs) - brushing my teeth, putting curlers in my hair, putting on make-up, and standing in line at the store.  Standing in line with both knees slightly bent was the hardest to do consistently.  Putting both hands on the handle of the shopping cart is a cue that makes me compliant.  Retraining the brain requires lots of repetition.  This new habit is not automatic yet, but I have become aware of when I lock this knee so I can tell it to stop.

Bottom Line:  I anchor each new exercise to a specific ADL which acts as a visual trigger.  It is wonderful not to have to think "I forgot/did not have time for X exercise" at the end of the day.

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